What... The...Fuck did I just watch?
I mean seriously. I am sitting here, a full two hours after watching this film and I am still completely and utterly confused as to what I just saw. For the first sixty five to seventy minutes of this film's ninety-ish minute run time, everything is OK. That is, if you can consider a movie that feels like a more claustrophobic version of "The Strangers". Then in the final section of the film, things go completely sideways and upside down, taking you from a comfortable place where you know what is going on to a strange sort of acid trip that leaves you playing over events of the movie in your head, trying to make sense of what is going on.
The worst part here? I can't actually say much about the actual plot, for fear of spoiling the rather strange conclusion. What I can say, is the movie focuses on pretty much one character for the entire run time, Sarah, played by Elizabeth Olsen (yeah, she's related to THOSE Olsens... NO not Jimmy!). Sarah is out at a family-owned property clearing things out and prepping the home to be sold with her Father and her Uncle. Out at this wondrous property there are no lights, no phones, and only one motor car... so they had it slightly better than the folk on Gilligan's Island. After a brief off screen argument, that one motor car is taken, along with Uncle Peter. Soon, Sarah and her Father are left in that dark spooky house all alone.
Or are they? (Insert Dramatic music here)
There are some things that I think are worthy of praise in this film. For the first part of the film, they do an amazing job of making the film feel very claustrophobic. It's a big house, but everything feels tight and close together. There is a lot of close corners, twisting flights of stairs, and windows that are boarded up to keep out the light.
Also of note, is that the entire movie seems to have been done in a single take. From beginning to end, a single camera, no cuts. There isn't any point until towards the end where a cut would have even been feasible. So, that leaves me having to praise not only the camera work, but also the acting as well. To do a 90 minute sustained shot like this, without breaking character is something that I honestly never see. Kudos to them for that.
Honestly the ending was the only part that I have any real complaint about... And I can't discuss it much at all. Suffice to say, it feels like it came out of nowhere to me. While it is a welcome change from the standard thriller, it felt like there was no real build up to the ending.
There is a lot going for this movie. And honestly, for what it was, I think it was rather enjoyable. There were some really good jumps, some amazing camera work, and young Miss Olsen held up pretty spectacularly throughout. The movie screws with your head, and leaves you questioning what you are seeing. And in the end, that is a great thing.
Is this film "theater-worthy"?:
I would like to say so. The film will definitely play well at home in a small room, on a nice big screen, but the feeling of a large theater, juxtaposed with the claustrophobia of the film itself was rather enjoyable. Not to mention seeing it in theaters might encourage Hollywood to make more movies like this that take chances, rather than playing it safe and making sequels to reboots to reimaginings of an adaptation of a video game based on a novelization of the film of the same name.
My Final thoughts:
I can dig it. I like a film that leaves me guessing, and traps me in a moment. I love the camera work, and how they manage to work around the camera without being too terribly "aware" of the fact that there is a camera there. Kudos to the filmmakers and kudos to the cast. Give me more movies like this, even if the end did sour things slightly.
Slamfist Rating: 8.0 out of 10