Didn’t Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic) announce his retirements at one stage, or did I dream that? Either way the man continues to deliver movies including this latest psychological thriller starring The Crown’s Clare Foy who plays Sawyer, a woman who has started a new job in a new city after running from a stalker. However after an intended one night stand goes awry, she turns to a psychiatrist to tackle some of her demons. Problem is she unwittingly signs herself into a psychiatric institute and is unable to leave for seven days. Is she losing her mind and has her stalker returned?
Soderberg’s movie has an immediately unsettling aesthetic. Filmed believe it or not entirely on an iPhone, and with claustrophobic, unconventional filming techniques that makes everything seem dream-like … it was easy for me to go along with the paranoia and hopelessness of Sawyer’s plight. Once the hospital becomes the main location, the way the movie questions what is real and what might be in Sawyer’s head is very well done. Foy is brilliant, damaged and vulnerable making her one of those actors that really becomes the character. Support from genre icon Amy Irving (Carrie) was welcome if under-used and along with a creepy stalker this ticked all my boxes.
I’d have liked the ‘is she imagining it?’ element explored a little more than it was as it kind of turns into a typical thriller in the final act … but along with plenty of atmosphere and a few genuine shocks, I really enjoyed this.
This may be a rather familiar concept – a lone woman in a secluded house is tormented by a masked killer – however the spin being she happens to be deaf and mute. So that adds a little bit of a twist to what is otherwise fairly formulaic. However in the hands of relatively unknown Mike Flanagan who made the underrated Oculus this at least has a few interesting surprises and nice touches to keep this viewer entertained.
At a lean 82 minutes it wastes little time in getting going, setting up its premise and ramping up the tension and gets all sorts of creepy as we occasionally get things from the woman’s view point; complete with the sound muffled for added atmosphere. However with a one-note killer that is basically nothing more than a walking cliché and a clichéd setting that for some reason a deaf and mute woman seems perfectly at ease leaving doors unlocked and well, having a cat for company than say, a dog … what is initially a fun ride quickly begins to show some cracks.
Thankfully, Kate Siegel delivers a decent portrayal of a woman who isn’t your stereotypical helpless victim and proves believably resourceful. Yet what support cast there is, is serviceable rather than all that memorable; a neighbour, the neighbour’s husband and what appears to be an ex-boyfriend, all with little characterisation. I’d have liked a bit more going on and an actual connection between the woman and the killer/tormenter, but we get nothing – is that supposed to be scarier? Yet Flanagan handles the thrills with some degree of skill and plays with the concept enough to still deliver a fast, violent and effective movie. It may not redefine a tired genre but still does it’s job rather well.
Another recent horror that had gained praise from critics and seemed like something different amongst the slew of remakes and paranormal activity sequels. This tells the story of Jay, a nineteen year old student who goes on a date with a local guy she’s been seeing. Only thing is after they have sex he reveals he has passed a curse onto her of some relentless ‘being’ that has been following him. It’s now going to be following her, and she should not let it touch her and try and pass the curse on herself as soon as she can.
This is a cool idea for a horror movie. It involves the viewer like I haven’t seen in a long time as I found myself watching every part of the screen for someone lurking and following our main character. Also the frights are mostly well done with only a few being a bit predictable, and there isn’t an over-reliance on jump-scares. Maika Monroe who was very good in The Guest once again proves herself an actress to watch. Helps she’s pretty hot too (don’t judge me!). Supporting cast, which apart from one guy don’t get a lot to do, still felt like real people. It’s also obvious the whole idea is a not-so subtle metaphor of the dangers of teenage promiscuity (the ‘It’ being perhaps similar to an STD). The movie also pays welcome homage to late seventies / early eighties horror movies like Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street with both it’s camera work and it’s intentionally old-school score.
That’s not to say it’s without fault. Sometimes the actions of the main character are bizarre to say the least (sleeping on a car bonnet?) and at times the story gets awfully vague, leaving some puzzling moments to your imagination (the guys on the boat). That being said, this still delivered a genuinely unsettling atmosphere and some effective scares … making for a quality evening’s viewing.
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