I need to preface this review by mentioning that the circumstances under which I watched this film were not optimal. It is a very thoughtful film, almost entirely comprised of mood and atmosphere, and I saw it in a screening room with a very large man in front of me where I had to lean to the side during the entire running time, and his ear still covered the left side of the screen. It was a bit distracting, and I think it caused me to miss some things that you need to notice to fully comprehend the film. This is a film that can only be enhanced by repeat viewings (which are probably necessary to get it all anyway), so I’ll probably watch it again when it comes out on dvd.
The film, as I said, is full of mood and atmosphere, and is about loneliness, regret, and death. It doesn’t hand feed or spell anything out to the audience, and lets you draw your own conclusions. Those who don’t appreciate thoughtful, slow moving mood pieces will definitely not like this very much.
It’s about an antiques dealer who’s estranged mother has passed away and left her estate to him. He comes to stay the night in the house, and discovers that her level of religious fervor (which had contributed to his estrangement and caused some anxiety issues in his life) had reached fever pitch, and she had fallen in with a cultish group. Most of the movie is him exploring the house and discovering things related to this group and his mother’s obsession with them, as well as her insistance on him accepting salvation. Vanessa Redgrave voices his mother (in voiceover- she’s never really shown), and is the main voice we hear throughout the film.
As the night goes on, strange things begin happening- he starts seeing things, having bad dreams, and feels a presence. He’s not sure of it’s in his head, or real. He finds a secret room and angel statues everywhere. He begins to think his mother might be reaching out to him from beyond the grave, trying to tell him something. A neighbor stops by to warn him that there is ‘an animal’ that has started coming out of the woods at night that is hurt, and may be dangerous. His anxiety attacks start getting worse, and he begins to feel paranoid and stalked by the creature the neighbor warned him about.
The film is beautifully shot, and evokes strong feelings of loneliness as well as creepiness. Not a lot happens throughout most of it (with the exception of a stretch in the middle with the above mentioned ‘animal’), and no answers are definitively provided. I’m not totally sure how much I liked it, and will need to watch it again. It made me think of two other movies to some extent- the Woman In Black (2012), which I liked a lot, and Antichrist (2009), which I did not like much at all. At any rate, the skill in the direction (by RUE MORGUE magazine founder Rodrigo Gudiño), acting, and cinematography cannot be denied, and the haunting atmosphere and sorrowful mood it evokes is very well done. It’s not like most other horror movies (and is not for everyone) but if you’re into filmmakers like Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist) you’ll probably eat this up.