Its creepiness creeps under your skin behind a mask of innocence.
The wild river running through young Kelly's psyche -- the same river that runs naked through the field of every child -- is being probed, dammed, polluted, and recorded by seemingly benevolent parents who are also publishing Kelly's "experimental" behavior as reputable child psychologists. The parental investigations of their only child, or more aptly experiments, of Mr and Mrs Marble, are so extreme, that we don't see what's coming, just like their child Kelly. The impeccable production values, sly music, very clever flashbacks created with seamless camera angles and editing, the deadpan acting -- all conspire to put us in a kind of trance, hypnotize us into believing all is as it should be, all of this is normal. The hypnotic effect is underscored by the disarming and balanced performance of Meredith Droeger as nine-year-old Kelly. How can we resist taking such a journey with such as she?
We don't recognize the Machiavellian undertow of the Marbles, which is especially diabolical in the afterglow of watching the film as we awaken to the fact that the experiments are organized and carried out by parents, experiments so benign at first glance, as to be almost laughable. This is dark comedy, after all. No need to take it too seriously.
We don't recognize the riptide because we trust the parents, right? But equally insidious is the general way in which we, at the dawn of the 21st Century, accept surveillance and invasion of privacy because the technology to invade is so ubiquitous. If and when we wake up from our sleep walk through land mines threatening the very foundation of our childhood freedoms, we, like Kelly, might conspire -- loudly -- to commit such an egregious crime that our parents, authorities, governors, will have to come clean, right? And like Kelly, we are more than likely foolish enough to believe they will.
This is a tongue in cheek horror film teaming up with a 21st Century Alice in Wonderland satire, satire of the best kind, orchestrated beautifully by producer Mary Kay Cook, director Rocco Cataldo, and cinematographer Michael Kwielford.
BTW, I was so relieved to learn in the end credits that there were no animals harmed.
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