By TOMMY BOND
The married film making team behind Open Water has done it again, bringing us a dread-filled experience of a film, wrapped up in a modest, cleverly executed gift-bag to horror fans. Or at least it was intended as a gift bag. Some may be disappointed after the novelty wears off. What novelty you ask? The whole film, all 88 minutes, is presented as a single take. Those familiar with Hitchcock’s work will remember this tactic from his Rope, starring James Stewart. Of course both films had to find ways to conceal cuts, but the final result is still exhilarating and impressive. (Even with cuts, most of the takes had to be 10 minutes of technical flawlessness). The film features the talented Elizabeth Olsen, revisiting her old summer home with her dad and uncle to fix it up for the market. Once inside however, she realizes she is not alone, and something eerie and horrible begins to creep in from her past. As an experiment in creative film making, the film soars. The acting is good, and Elizabeth Olsen is a natural scream queen. But once the gimmick becomes tired, the story seems to stumble around in the dark, and we start urging the characters on the screen to use their heads. “No, no, no! Not THAT way you silly girl!” The ending is an incredibly powerful crescendo of visual and aural attacks on the senses, horrible imagery both disturbing and crucial. As the heroine backs out of the bathroom, blood on the walls and her world caving in around her, I got it. The puzzle pieces all came together. She should have taken a deep breath and walked out of the house, then “cut to black”. But no, the filmmakers didn’t trust us enough to arrive at the precise conclusion they were looking for, so a Scooby Doo-esque wrap up takes place that, although comforting and reassuring, was also a bit insulting. That I realized that I was watching a “wrap up” made it seem all the more fake, unnecessary, and detrimental to the story. It should have happened differently, we should have been trusted as an audience. But then again, people liked Project X.
Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau.
Rated R for disturbing violent content and terror.
Running Time: 85 Minutes.
Released in theatres: March 9th, 2012.