Reviews written by registered user
|37 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This review is essentially for anyone who has already seen the film,
and thought it was amazingly intelligent, well done, and coherently put
together. The end of the film presents us with a picture of finality,
that our main protagonist pulled off the perfect crime, and got away
with it without any suspicion or investigation against him, and made a
slick easy 2 million dollars that was untraceable. If you accept this
premise, then you accept that all the law enforcement investigating the
case, as well as those involved had the intelligence of 5 year olds.
One of the most damning aspects I think, is the idea that no link could be established between the main protagonist and his 2 accomplices who he was friends with, the girl, who he was in a relationship with. To believe this, you have to believe that of the many people who had seen his 2 accomplices on university campus which is where he met them, NO ONE had seen him with them, and more than that, think about how they would have had to have not mentioned him to ANYONE they know; no mention of him to ANY of their friends or family, or on sites like facebook, twitter, phone records even; NOTHING; no link whatsoever. All it would have taken was a tiny link which is hard to believe didn't exist, especially in the case of his female accomplice who was in love with him, and he would be facing a very fervent investigation down his throat.
With that impossible hurdle aside, we come to the many flaws in the execution of the crime itself. Firstly, he gives his male accomplice a gun with blanks, yet he gives his female accomplice a gun with real bullets, and it just so happens she ends up shooting one of the 3 hostages, contrary to his plan. This firstly, looks very staged, and secondly it makes no sense that he would risk giving one of them an armed gun, and the other not. In terms of evidence of him being in the house, you see him gloveless touching quite a lot of things and the house does NOT get burned down, not to mention tire tracks of his own car in the surrounding dirt road areas which would have made his story inconsistent. In addition to this, the 2 remaining hostages DO hear the protagonist talking over the phone, yet they don't recognize his voice when he comes to the door. Picture being blindfolded, terrorized, and the only thing you hear is this man's voice. I guarantee that voice will be running through your head for weeks.
Now the incidentals, the worst of which is the female accomplice being killed by the male accomplice. Even though the guy was unstable, supposedly she was still his best friend, so although not impossible, it doesn't make any sense that he would kill her so glibly. Why this is important, is because if HE didn't kill her, the protagonist who is somewhat being presented in a sympathetic way would have had to kill his own girlfriend. This seems too staged and convenient, and none of it really seems to mesh. As a side note, I found it somewhat tacky how the third father ends up forking over a million dollars, when at this point he has seen or heard NO actual evidence of what his friends are saying. THEY could be scamming him for all he knows.
I am just a random idiot of average intelligence, so if these glaringly obvious inconsistencies are obvious to ME, just imagine how much more evidence and suspicion a highly intelligent crime investigator would have against our protagonist, and keeping in mind only a SINGLE ONE of my points would have had to catch someones attention for a large investigation to be launched against our protagonist causing them to realize "AHA! He was the son of the butler, now we have a connection. Now we have a motive. Now we know how he acquired access to the house. Now we know how he knew about this gathering". We the viewers in the end are supposed to believe that he was foolish enough to commit so many very simple errors, yet clever enough to work out an elaborate money laundering scheme and phone location rerouting system. I think not, and then the worst thing films like these can ever do is done by dipping the viewer's nose in the "cleverness" of this very flawed plot premise in the closing narration, rather than serving up a more ambiguous ending.
I honestly have to wonder if many of the other reviewers have seen the
same film as I. Unfortunately, I went into this film with very high
expectations, as the premise and the content warnings seemed very much
like they would deliver something compelling and extreme. The main red
flag however, is that this was a low budget movie from a director who
made no further films. This can sometimes mean something brilliant, but
in this case, the film just barely steps above the bar of "cheap
amateurish independent straight to video film".
The Writing Style/Plot Development
One important thing to note is that this film is very dialogue driven, mainly with the monologues by the characters to the camera. I know well about the writing process, and as in plays, when your story is so heavily dialogue based, you're at a great risk of making your characters seem schizophrenic, because that dialogue is ultimately based on the episodic mood swings of the writer over a long period of time, crunched down into the short period of time within the material. The foremost problem with the material delivered by these young actors is that really, it sounds like dialogue written by a balding middle aged man who THINKS he knows how teenagers talk, feel, and rationalize, which is packed with tonnes of whiny pseudo intellectual nonsense, which because they're TEENAGERS, never goes full circle and often ends in vanity, triteness, or ambiguity, so in most cases a REAL concise reason for committing suicide is never established, and how each character's "inner thoughts" contradict from scene to scene shows that the writer himself did not BELIEVE the dialogue, and thus was unable to make it coherent and credible.
My first impression was that the directing was bad, but the story and idea were good. I began to think twice about this in how the instigator of the whole premise "Scott", tells his very eclectic group of friends about his idea one by one, who ALL think it's so cool and amazing, and that they too MUST commit suicide along with him. The young actors were fairly mediocre, aside from Kris Lemche as "Patrick" who was the only one really able to create a compelling character with some sort of screen presence. I personally did not like any of the characters, especially the main protagonist "Scott" who speaks like a programmed robot, so filled with technical analytical phrases, that he only comes across as a caricature, and his friends have a bit of this too. Even though they're supposed to be non mainstream, in this film, a hodgepodge of sub cultures and social backgrounds so that ALL BASES of teen anxiety are covered, it's hard to imagine anyone being that out of touch with the world they live in, and moreover, "Scott" is able to rationally convince the school bully to return their camera, that he stole, with this very irritating way of speaking.
The Directing/Scene Layout
The directing, combined with a very stagey unravelling of events is what I found amazing that so many other reviewers were able to overlook. The classroom scenes, with the protagonist goofing off with his camera were very badly handled. That just won't happen without the smart ass students as well as the teacher getting in your face about it, and most teachers would confiscate the camera, but no one says a word. Picture having a conversation on your telephone in a classroom. How ridiculous would that be? Also, Patrick's character, spying on everyone with his camera, looking up girl's dresses, masturbating in the girl's washroom, without being seen, heard, or getting in trouble, not to mention abducting a screaming 10 year old in a crowded supermarket, hauling her into the washroom where he rapes and kills her without being seen, heard or caught, is simply just not realistic.
The real crux of the issue however is the suicidal motives of the characters and how they were handled. of the 4 characters who state their cases for WHY they plan to kill themselves: Scott: inner freedom. Sandy: testament to true love. Trudi: domestic discord. Patrick: homicidal urges? None of these are given much background or ANY aside from Trudi's case, though still not convincingly, who ridiculously enough, in all 6 of them is the only one who is shown to have typical problems of depression, the kind you see in most real life suicide cases. The characters, Rick and Cody, who we are given no inner insight into, are wasted, and seem very full of life rather than depression, Particularly Rick, who in this film represents typical quasi hip-hop culture, who doesn't seem to fit in with this group of people at all.
Closing Notes/Film Message
I will close by touching on one of the very last phrases spoken into a camera by the character "Scott" and showing truly how badly the people involved in the making of this film do NOT understand their subject. "Do you want to know the real truth? I did it because I was bored. The number one killer of teenagers today isn't drugs or alcohol... It's just plain boredom.... AND I WAS BORED!". Not only is it hilarious, but it's just plain not true. Any deaths to teenagers caused by boredom result from "Accidental" not "suicidal" deaths such as car crashes, skateboard injuries, auto-asphyxiation or the like. The impulse of suicide tends to come from ANYTHING but boredom, and instead, derives from feeling horrible and emotionally destroyed for whatever causal reasons. True, the character can say anything, and it doesn't matter if it's true or not, but by now, he's been reduced to a talking point with a face, not a character. I watched this horrible film because I was bored, luckily, it did not make me want to kill myself.
I'm finding it hard to write an in-depth review about this movie, but
of all the mass murder films I have seen, the imperfections of this
film seem to make it a very good case in point to comment upon. The
thing I most take issue with is how the film makers decided to relate
the film to any real life incidents it was based on, by telling the
viewer upfront at the opening of the film that it was based on the
Montreal massacre, but saying all characters in the film are fictional.
The purpose for this is clearly for nothing other than the
capitalization upon real life human suffering, otherwise really why
would it need to be blatantly stated if the film is a fictional
account? When film makers do that, they knowingly attract the interest
of people in such events, and moreover they place their film on a
pedestal above fiction which tends to endear people towards the film,
however this IS fiction and it is difficult to tell where the fiction
and biogrqaphy begins and ends.
Adding to this tasteless fact, the film makers decided to make their film in black and white (for whatever official reason). The likely and common reason, is that it bestows a certain respectability and legitimacy to the film, a technique used many times before in action dramas which may otherwise come across as exploitative, for if it were in color like most films, it might have been regarded as "just another made for t.v. movie" which to be honest wouldn't be that unfitting.
As to the content, is the film in itself horrible? Not necessarily, though because the scenes depicted are very matter of fact, and mainly action driven with very little dialogue, not to mention that of all the films involving mass murder I've seen, this film shows probably the greatest amount of actual violence, it may not be intended to shock, but there is very little depth outside of what we instantly know the film pertains to.
"Polytechnique" can very easily be compared to "Elephant" in terms of the feel of the film, though Elephant really did seem to have a purpose and real depth and artistry, whereas this film seemed to be merely showing us events. While Gus Van Sant in "Elephant" badly messed up on chronological timing, there isn't much in "polytechnique" to scrutinize other than the fact that in the 30 or so minute range of time that the shooting takes place, it remains questionable that there would be so many people still simply milling about the institution unaware of what was happening for such a long time, though all things said and done, it is very hard to say exactly how such events would play out in reality.
There was very little buildup, very little contemplation on the event, and since I came away from the film feeling empty, and really asking what the point of the film was, ultimately the film just doesn't have very much to say. What it does, is it merely coldly shows us a horrific event without giving it much of a face other than (The shooter hated feminists... so he killed them.) Again, not a horrible movie, but it doesn't possibly in any way do justice to the actual event that took place, which is really a bit shameful.
Canadian films have a tendency, when they're of better ilk, to still
have no real star-power in and of themselves, and of course, being a
made for t.v. movie, more often, that is the best you can hope for.
That being said, this is a fairly decent movie. It more or less
accomplishes what it sets out to do, and it's message, quite well
delivered in the ending with the juxtaposition of the victim, and the
kidnapper, both having come from troubled backgrounds, yet both ending
on opposite sides of the law as a result of inner strength, shines
through rather poignantly.
All in all, the film carries with it a sense of realism and plausibility, though of course, there are ways that it could have been better. Personally I think the hostage taking scenes needed to be more brutal and traumatic since after all, the end of the film has a statement saying "The real life woman who this is based on is working to promote awareness for violence against women and children." WHAT violence... WHAT abuse... As someone who is not particularly sympathetic to the feminist bend of this film, which of course indirectly implies that violence against men is alright, as a viewer I don't feel THAT bad for the protagonist if all she's suffered was being yelled at for a few hours, and even being a made for t.v. movie shouldn't limit this.
One highly positive thing about the film is that it was so well cast. Brendan Penny, the lead kidnapper is a rather interesting character. I worked with him incidentally in a scene on the show "Whistler". He comes across as someone who pursues acting because he genuinely loves it in all it's craft, which is rather refreshing, and that trademark bizarre bitter sardonic rage filled presence he seems to regularly bring to the screen with him, is quite well placed in this film. Julie Benz, while possibly coming across as annoying to some ALSO fits the bill, because realistically if you imagine the character of a reformed stripper, THAT is exactly how they would be, at least in my mind, though unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if she came across this way in most of the films she's been in.
After the criminal deed is done and finished with, the remaining half of the film is dedicated to presenting how harsh the legal process can be on victims, and why many find it hard to face. It is indeed a point worthy of stressing, though it is done in a way that comes across as slightly tedious. In essence, the directing, and the exemplification of the character's emotions shows lack of artistry. The court scene was overdramatised to the point of being a bit of a farce. The amount of balls that the defence attorney would have to have to present his defence would have to be quite immense, shamelessly dragging the protagonist through the mud and alleging that everything was planned entirely by her, and that she forced his client to go along with it when he had a mountain of evidence against his client, including the dozen prior bank robbery convictions, the fact that none of the recovered money was found in the possession of the protagonist, not to mention forced entry of the house. But in the end, he may have just been a dumb, arrogant, overly ambitious lawyer, as may have been emphasized when he had the audacity to object to the closing statements of the victim.
A decent film overall in terms of being solidly put together. Not over the top to the point of being unrealistic, though it brings nothing new, interesting, or shocking to the table either. At the same time, Assuming the reader has no general prejudices, I can't think of a reason for them to not watch it.
Without a doubt, the most interesting aspect of this film is the fact
that it was shot in the space of three years, specifically so we can
watch the characters as well as the actors grow on film, and Malmros
makes a point in showing the female lead grow LITERALLY. In terms of
the pathological side, this technique, something I've always wanted to
see on film, happens to work well on some of the character's/actors
better than others. The male lead was probably more convincing in his
That being said, what new does this director bring to the screen aside from this one point of interest? Virtually nothing, as this is yet again ANOTHER period piece from a man seemingly inescapably trapped in the past, which he can never get back. A film almost identical to his prior, and probably more successful film "Kundskabens Trae" merely for it's own ambiguity, both films end almost identically. However, In attempting to establish a more focused storyline here, in my opinion he succeeds LESS at capturing what his other film did; a glance at life in the past, which here, 40 as opposed to 20 years later seems rather like a painful step back, and the entire film falls into melodrama as with the sub plot involving the female lead's father, or how the male lead reads the secrets in his girlfriend's diary.
It is a bleak and depressing film in that there is no real conflict but simply subtle aggravation revolving around an unconsummated unfulfilled romance where the 2 character's bounce back and forth, treating the relationship that the film focuses on, more superficially than is needed to be a worthy basis for a film in my opinion. It would seem that all the characters have bleak uninteresting academically oriented lives, and while aspects of youthful naivety are there, they are not well rounded. All you really get comes from the main character, and he entirely consists of two simple notions "I like to study hard, and I am involved in quasi relationship that I don't know how to interpret".
The bottom line is at this stage in his career as a director, the ambiance and FEEL of the period he is working in does not seem authentic or encapsulating anymore, but more like a cry of help. On one hand you could argue, at least he is showing us what he knows, rather than embarrassingly attempting to show us what he thinks the youth of today are like, as with directors like Larry Clark, and largely failing, but what I will say, is that any artist has to grow and see and express new things from new angles, whereas this man seems to be stuck in the narcissistic deconstruction of his own life in every one of his films, and here it becomes a bad thing, as some scenes are becoming more stagy, The director needs to take his experiences and apply them to today, not simply re-hash them, but like many directors, he seems to be one who has only one message to deliver, the first time successfully, followed by a series of hickups. It is really not that it is a horrible film, there is simply very little of note about it.
While the general premise, in other words, the motivating factors of
the antagonists, is quite good in that it's atypical, interesting, and
makes a lot of sense as the motivating factor for these people to make
the protagonist's life a living hell for most of the running time of
this film, it was thrown into a ridiculously overstaged package.
Firstly, the guy they're after just HAPPENS to be one of two of the last holdouts preventing the demolition of a building in the way of a big real estate venture. And why is he in this position unlike virtually every single other apartment dweller in New York? So the bad guys can make as much noise and be as sloppy as they want while they interrogate the guy in his apartment without having to fear any intervention by police or neighbours. Regardless, if they wanted to interrogate him and not kill him outright, to avoid getting caught, the only sensible option would be to isolate him on his own, probably at night, throw him into a van, and drag him out into the country or the woods.
However, these criminals clearly WANT to get caught since they don't even wear gloves. One of them reveal's he's an ex-con who REALLY doesn't want to go back to prison, so to me, right off the bat this movie becomes impossible to take seriously. In addition to this, they happen to be very LUCKY and strangely brazen as they break into this guy's apartment a mere 30 seconds after the police visit him, and it happens to be the one time his door isn't locked for fear of his landlord's goons, and only because his dog distracted him. Another example of how lucky they are, is when the mother and daughter show up and the daughter runs away with one of the bad guys following her. She runs into a woman and doesn't ask for help or say what's going on, and simply waits for the bad guy to catch up, who pretends to be her father and calmly walk her back into the building. This really made no sense at all.
Also, The way the protagonist escapes being bound by suddenly producing a pocket knife that seemed to come out of nowhere and breaking free at the perfect time seemed so ordained to happen as yet another tacked on plot device. I won't give away who comes out on top at the end, but it's important to note that burning bodies doesn't wash away their identity, as their teeth would almost always be able to match their dental records, so to be effective you would have to individually pull out the teeth from the dead bodies.
this film would be a total waste of time altogether if it wasn't for the presence of Frank Whaley who's acting is simply amazing, and I'm surprised he's not more widely recognized because as a character actor he's right up there. Andie Macdowell as the mother on the other hand basically came across as a lame phony southern caricature, which seemed false and irritating. Altogether, It's an OK film for one time viewing, as you certainly don't get bored, but if you're a thinking person you might want to give this one a miss, because the staginess, and the characters stupid actions which I didn't fully get into, will irritate you.
As usual, when I watch a film with psychopathic homicidal criminals who
seem to have everything go their way despite taking ludicrous risks and
being sloppy to the extreme, I sit there half angry trying to process
The film is about a serial killer duo who apparently move from house to house, killing all the occupants, setting up residence for a week or two, then leaving to repeat the process again. Criminally speaking, this can go on successfully for a time and eventually they WILL get caught. They operate in a way in which they leave tonnes of evidence; fingerprints, witnesses, plus half a dozen dead bodies, people who had plans/appointments to come to the house and apparently NONE of them informing their loved ones or friends about where they were going, and thus, the police stay well out of the picture. This is what we know after having sat through half of the film, so at this point we realise 1. they arrive on scene ALREADY wanted by the police. 2. composite sketches should be being blasted all over the news. 3. chances are they should be identified by fingerprints and/or DNA (hair strands/blood). The fact that both killers, but the woman in particular are being so brazen during this film more or less gives them a 95% chance of being caught
All this being said, assuming they're the luckiest serial killers alive with an unnatural blessing to kill as many people as they want to (It's a weak poorly planned serial killer movie, so OF COURSE.), and assuming they are this lucky, let's examine the 5% window that this film lives in. One question people will always ask themselves is "how is it that no one in the neighbourhood took notice or showed suspicion." A valid question, though even more valid is the general lack of concern by people uninvolved. e.g. I once personally saw someone get kidnapped off the street and hauled into a moving van, and I didn't particularly care enough to call the police, as I was already late for my train, and I didn't see any of the other few people around reaching for their cell phones either, so this aspect of the film's integrity which other reviewers have brought up, is honestly not a worthy criticism.
Where I turn to now is the character's actions. The worst and most nonsensical aspect to me is the character driven premise... WHY does the male killer not simply kill the owner the second she walks into the room, finding her friend dead. He has absolutely no reason not to, has already killed 3 people in the house, so it makes no sense, as well as being really stagy how she backs into where he's hiding and then all fades to black and she SOMEHOW conveniently loses consciousness basically so the encounter/interaction between the two wont have to be dealt with and she can awaken later in chains. Not very smooth directing at all. That being said, the directing is VERY American school, as the film is riddled with 5 or so scenes where characters show up JUST at that pesky moment.
To top it off, an important criticism that many brought up was the dialogue and thus the motivation of the characters. Firstly, despite the owner stating that she believes the male killer is DIFFERENT than his female counterpart, he is clearly just as brutal as her, if not moreso, and there is no real worthy conflict between the 2 killers shown. He is really given NO motive, emotional, logistical, or otherwise to abandon his current companion for this new woman that he for no particular reason spared, and had no meaningful dialogue with, and thus no real basis for any emotional connection.
The ending however was more or less the final shitscoop on the turd Sunday we've been forced to swallow here; contrived, melodramatic, stagy, and the climax of an entirely unfounded plot premise for all the reasons I have listed above. Even though the acting is fairly competent, especially by the male antagonist, it really leaves you feeling nothing in the end, and honestly, I really cannot see the point in sacrificing any of your time on a film written/directed by someone who took no time to produce meaningful dialogue, and who clearly put no thought or planning into the nature of the criminal elements portrayed on screen.
It seems that British horror fans and perhaps horror fans in general
simply DON'T like realistic horror films, as this director's first
feature, which was absolutely ridiculous, received a great rating,
whereas this film apparently left a lot of people bored. It's frankly
understandable why, since it's basically a film for people who like
real life mundanity brought to extreme and desperate situations "pain,
horror, and torture mixed with mundane and lengthy dialogue.", and I
suppose if you just want to see blood and gore, you don't necessarily
care if it's realistic or not. If however you like close knit tension,
accept that people say more than 2 sentences in a scene to each other
before leaving, and like seeing extreme situations on film, you will
like this film.
There is no question that it is nowhere near as ambitious as a similarly themed film such as "Sequestrados" or "Eden Lake", which have multiple locations and much more impressive camera work, but in the end, they fall short in terms of believability, because they make more mistakes, and in it's simplicity with "Cherry Tree Lane", you get a solid plot line that doesn't devolve into idiocy like a lot of horror that bothers me in trying TOO hard to be creative. The only questionable elements of this film you will have to accept are: 1. in this neighbourhood, if a gang of thugs break into your home, your neighbours either don't give a flaming scheisse about all the screams coming from your place, have their TV's too loud, have all gone out for the night, or are too British to show any compassion, and 2. that if you happen to be bound and gagged by thugs, and your son comes to the door with screams going on inside the house, that he will be inquisitive as to what's going on rather than fearful for his life. It's quite comical because I find the one aspect that so many directors have a problem with is picturing how sound travels in the CONCEPTUALIZED location, and rather think only within the bounds of their actual present shooting location.
In the end, I was never bored during this film, and I was relieved that there WEREN'T tonnes of early futile escape attempts crammed in just to please all the morons out there who get bored of people talking, or simply to needlessly increase the running time. We KNOW you won't escape.... It's only been 30:00 minutes. In addition, the ending, at least to me, was completely worth it, mildly shocking, nothing over the top, but enough to really make you think about how something like this, despite all the questioning of the character's actions, really could go down this way in real life; a frightening aspect which many more ambitious films simply cannot get across because they go too far. Overall; good effort, although not as hard hitting as his prior film "London to Brighton". I hope to see more from this director in the future.
What we have here is a story of a young screen writer suffering from
psychological disorders who locks himself in his apartment, in a
desperate attempt to complete a script for a film after a long break
from writing, while struggling with many inner demons. This theme of
artists facing deadlines while dealing with some sort of great inner
turmoil has been done countless times, so needless to say, for it to be
effective here, they would have had to bring something new or creative
to the table. There really is a lot of potential with this subject, as
it's very interesting see a screenplay writer under huge pressure
slowly unravel. As a writer, let me say that when under extreme
pressure, or having spent long amounts of time alone writing, its
really NOT uncommon to begin talking to oneself or acting things out in
the room. The real question this film puts forth is where is the line
between method and insanity, where is the persons breaking point, and
at what point do the mere illusions and acting become reality if you're
in a particularly unstable state of mind.
The final cut of this movie has many problems with it, and foremost being that marketed as a horror film, the horror is more or less non existent. You have an evil clown who pretty much doesn't do anything but stand and look evil, and tonnes of side characters hallucinated by the main actor who bicker back and forth with him, until one by one they are done away with on screen while all the long, the viewer KNOWS it's fake anyways. The director simply was too inept and uncreative to come up with anything creepy or genuinely scary enacted out. EVEN IF it was all just figments of the main characters imagination, it could have been creepy or scary just in its mere conception, and here stems the rest of the film's problems.
I first saw portions of this film on the space channel, and quite unusually for me, with random films I catch on TV, I badly wanted to get a copy. The scene that impressed me had the main character delivering a long very well written monologue to the camera, raving about the strife he had with his ex girlfriend. It was very powerful and gave huge background and insight into the character, and what was really mentally driving him over the edge. An insight which you didn't find in any way, in the version I acquired, as in that version, this scene was cut out, and it's very easy to see why. In fact there were many scenes with the actor delivering monologues to the screen, giving it almost a semi documentary type feel to it in some places, beautifully painting harsh pictures to the audience with mere words. Firstly, its not uncommon to have more than one version of the same film floating around, and sadly this goes to show us that when the producers come knocking at the door, and they DON'T like "the final draft" if you will, but more accurately, the final cut, they have the power to suck any shred of artistic merit out of a film. The space channel version was really a full fledged psychological drama with a great script, and pretty well done too, but the problem is... it was "SUPPOSED" to be a horror film. Worse still, it had a very European feel to it, and English language films with a European feel just aren't marketable to a North American audience. Clearly the material was re-cut and the end result, though competently put together, was lacklustre, and unoriginal. There was quite a lot of swearing also in the TV version unlike in the version I ended up getting a hold of, so unfortunately I didn't get to see the full space channel version because my mother couldn't handle the swearing, and changed the channel.
All said and done, a very tragic state of affairs. The director was able to put together a fairly competent film, but unable to adapt it into a film of "horror" and thus sullying his own name and the name of the screenplay writer with this relatively disappointing film. One example of how competent he was. in some regard, is the scene at the restaurant, where before the writer locks himself in his room, we are given a really clear and unexaggerated glimpse at just the extent of the main character's psychological state and how he is prone to hallucinations, adding a realism which in a huge way sets the stage for the types of things that go on while he is locked away in his apartment, and all in all, keeping the whole thing plausible and not over the top. It is very hard to do this AND deliver true horror to the screen.
Indeed anyone who went to see this film and was expecting a horror film SHOULD be angry and feel cheated, because it definitely is not one. If however you're prepared for a decent fairly unoriginal psychological drama, you might still want to give it a try with the context I've put forth here. It is honestly a decent movie for what it is. If you're interested in seeing a film with a similar plot to this one which REALLY hits home, and hits home hard on all fronts in terms of both psychological drama, AND in terms of horror, you might want to check out another Canadian film by he name of "Deadline" - 1981.
These types of films involving castaways who are somehow stranded on an
island are always interesting to look into, to see what those involved
came up with, simply because they're so formulaic. This film is
definitely no different, largely in part due to the fact that we don't
see the moments building up to the accident or the accident itself,
which would by far have added to the film, though at least the back
story of Emil is well developed. All we see is Emil hauling Sendrine to
a life raft where lies only the body of a lifeless fat man in a rather
unconvincing scene. The idea that a life raft would have been freed by
someone after the accident but no one aside from one man who
conveniently happened to suddenly drop dead from who knows what, JUST
after the accident which is clearly when Emil and Sendrine would have
had to crawl aboard it, is ridiculously contrived in order to have them
be the only two from the accident to be washed on shore of the island.
This film clearly had a low budget which is no surprise for a Canadian film. However what I find makes the film mediocre is how the drama is developed. We do see a bit of chemistry between the two characters but ultimately the screenplay was very poorly conceived as it doesn't really put the plot to full effect and the end result is the story feels very aloof especially in how it uses the narration of Sendrine presumably from her diary, although we never actually see her write in it, rather than actually developing more of what the characters are thinking and feeling through their interactions.
They interact basically on a "pet and master" sort of level which makes it feel very contrived how Sendrine eventually grows to love Emil in a big way. Understandably Emil is mentally retarded and will not interact with people normally, but even his character comes across as somewhat of a caricature, though still by no means laughably so. Chiefly, when trying to portray a mentally handicapped individual and having them constantly refer to themselves in the third person for example, this is something you only need to do as a last resort if the actors are unable to fully portray a mentally handicapped individual without the use of gimmicks, which is something you get in a lot of films to be honest.
In terms of Sendrine and Emils relationship, I think the biggest mistake was to try to develop it into a sexual relationship when they clearly weren't prepared to follow through with it. I'm not even sure what happened. Essentially, they started off hugging, both fully clothed, and she began rubbing up against him in a sexual manner, clearly in no position to be engaging in sexual relations, then they stop, the characters react strangely to this, and the result is utter confusion. Did they have sex? Did Sendrine get pregnant? All I know is women cannot get pregnant from sitting on toilet seats and the like. Clearly they had to take some precautions with this type of scene, but to me, the subject being controversial in no way alters the fact that any film afraid of its own subject is ultimately a failure, whatever the subject is. As bad as the "sex" scene itself is the buildup. There IS no real relational buildup to it, other than a lifeless diary quotation. It just happens abruptly, and seemed very "tacked on" Ultimately they would have done better to work on developing a stronger sense of "mother/son" type of relationship, which actually was successful to a degree.
Essentially, all the above points are reasons why the film is O.K. but by no means great. It is a low budget film, the director was clearly out of his depth, and despite the actors being decent, they don't have much of a script to work with, which is essential for any film which is carried solely by 2 characters. Some people may enjoy this film, but I found it ultimately disappointing and laughable in places, which is unfortunate because the premise had potential.
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