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When a protective father meets a murderous ex-con, both need to deviate from the path they are on as they soon find themselves entangled in a downwards spiral of lies and violence while having to confront their own inner psyche.
Something is missing in Tom's life. Every day he goes through the motions, becoming increasingly detached from those around him. His best friend Dan thinks he has the answer, a mysterious video he's got to see to believe. What Dan shows him leaves Tom unsettled, flooding his mind with disturbing images and desires, and binding the two friends together with its ugly secret. As he tries desperately to forget what he saw, Tom's mounting feelings of guilt and disillusionment quickly give way to paranoia and fear. One video soon follows another and another, blurring the line between reality and voyeuristic fascination, and threatening to dismantle everything around them. Written by
This is a great debut feature from writer/director Elias. Although classed as a horror, it really is much more of a mystery thriller, with a focus on characters rather than action, and it works very well. This is a great movie for fans of independent film, and a great lesson in low key, slow burn tension building. It covers subjects like obsession, voyeurism, friendship, and the onset of adulthood and responsibility; but it also throws some great gore (and a descent amount of boobs) in the mix too.
The film focuses mainly on two male leads(Tom and Dan), friends since school but now gradually drifting apart as adulthood takes its toll. The other main characters are Tom's wife (who lovingly attempts to keep her husband engaged in their relationship), and also their daughter. Except for a couple of other incidental characters, that is pretty much the whole cast, but it is all the cast that is needed here. The injections of comedy at the start may, at first, seem like this is another attempt at mixing comedy and horror, but it isn't, it simply helps cement the impact of the dark deterioration of the characters later on. This film is, as I said, a slow burn, it's character based and dialogue driven and not one for people who need something explosive happening in every scene, however, fans of psychological horror thrillers should love it. The lead role of Tom (played well by Jason Vail), really captures the disenchantment of adult life, while Dan (equally good) represents that person who clings to his youthful freedom and cant understand why his friend wont stay there with him. Tom's increasing detachment from his friends and family is really the catalyst for all that comes later.
The film makes it clear that the two friends have always been fans of horror, (using various inter-textual references), and in an attempt to get Tom to engage with him again, Dan orders an underground horror movie from the internet; this is where things begin to go downhill. Eventually, Dan persuades Tom to come and watch the mysterious film with him, at first Tom is horrified by it, but afterwards cannot stop thinking about it. Nightmares, strange desires and hallucinations start to add to Tom's already struggling mind while Dan's obsession with these strange videos grows.
The gore in this film doesn't come in huge buckets, but when it does come it is very well done (the film earned a well deserved award for effects), part of me would have liked a little more gore at times, but the other part of me knows that it would have seemed gratuitous and would have detracted from the story itself, so I shall reprimand the gore hound in me for this craving.
I wont go further into the plot to avoid spoilers, but I will say that the ending is very well realised; many films that leave questions at the end either leave too many questions or give no clues to the truth at all. Here, although quite subtle, I think a great balance between closure and ambiguity is reached.
If I had any complaint about the film, it would be that in a couple of points the dialogue seems a little forced and unnatural, but this is very minor nitpicking in an otherwise engrossing, disturbing and well executed film.
I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more from writer/director Elias in the future, I suggest you all do the same.
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