Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2014. Northern Lights Films, Animal Kingdom, Two Flints. Screenplay by David Robert Mitchell. Cinematography by Mike Gioulakis. Produced by Rebecca Green, David Kaplan, David Robert Mitchell, Erik Rommesmo, Laura D. Smith. Music by Rich Vreeland. Production Design by Michael Perry. Costume Design by Kimberly Leitz. Film Editing by Julio Perez IV. Independent Spirit Awards 2015. National Board of Review Awards 2015. Toronto International Film Festival 2014.
Maika Monroe is successfully dating a nice guy until she has sex with him in his car and things go horribly wrong. After being drugged and kidnapped, she wakes up tied to a chair and he tells her that he has passed on a supernatural curse that he has been carrying since his last sexual partner gave it to him. The curse is nothing itchy or burning but a constantly changing specter that takes various forms, walking towards the afflicted person it is attached to and, if allowed to make contact, kills them. Released back to her regular life, Monroe is now a mess, constantly seeing horrific visions that her friends do not until they become convinced that she is telling the truth and is not just emotionally disturbed. The attempts to outwit Monroe’s fate, then try to change it, become more and more crafty in this engaging if overwrought horror movie that relies on atmosphere and dread and keeps the gory visuals to a bare minimum. A bit too much emphasis on dread actually, since the plot’s barely perceptible movement is far more enjoyable while you are still trying to figure out what is going on; after you have caught up on the mystery, the stasis becomes frustrating and there are a few more turns of narrative than are necessary. The big, bright images of Detroit as a ghost town haunted by pained, bleeding figures is about as subtle as the allegory on sexually transmitted diseases and would be easier to take if the film employed the same level of humour throughout as it does in its wry conclusion. That said, the tributes to Carnival Of Souls and Blue Velvet are fun and the actors all do terrific work.