Jim - a lonely, troubled young man who works as an apartment superintendent, is replaying his tortured past. Through a series of flashbacks, and interactions with the mysterious tenants he ...
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Jim - a lonely, troubled young man who works as an apartment superintendent, is replaying his tortured past. Through a series of flashbacks, and interactions with the mysterious tenants he is surrounded by, we not only learn of his dark secrets, but also what it means to be normal. The answers he finds in his journey will shatter not only his perceptions of the past, but also his fragile grip on reality.Written by
Richard Griffin's latest film NORMAL had a lot of mystery surrounding it. I had figured out early on before the release that it would likely center around a serial-killer, but it almost seemed like few details were purposefully given. Such is appropriate though as NORMAL is indeed a very shadowy and mysterious film with a good amount of twists and turns. Despite Griffin making clarification that the film is not horror (the genre he is best known for working in), this distinction is a bit blurred here. NORMAL is a dark film and while it plays more with psychology and drama rather than standard thrills and chills, the movie certainly has enough horrific, unsettling and grim content in it. However, even if it doesn't play like a straight horror film, NORMAL is probably Griffin's scariest and affecting movie to date.
This is a movie (unlike most of the director's other films) that is dark and dead serious. Probably closest to Griffin's EXHUMED in tone and feel and the fact that much of the cast and crew is repeated here. For instance, the movie is all kinds of bleak and has a similar claustrophobic feel to it. Ken Willinger (who collaborates again with Griffin as director of photography here for the second time) crafts a similar look (albeit in color) and makes use of some really contrasty, low-key film noir type lighting that makes the film's aesthetic about as dark as its subject matter. Willinger really shines in his work here and fully demonstrates his massive talent for cinematography. On display are some truly amazing shots that rival the best work of a Roger Deakins-- my favorite of which features actor Michael Thurber walking through the streets of downtown Boston at night illuminated by a plume of sewer steam. This shot brought to mind a similar shot in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD and as with there, it gave me goosebumps.
Even if NORMAL is a rather unsettling film for much of its running time, it's also oddly beautiful in a lot of ways. Due to its music score at times and aforementioned Willinger cinematography, NORMAL almost has a Terrence Malick like quality to it in the visuals and storytelling. Just a poignant and powerful film and the performances help sell it. Michael Reed is excellent in the lead and comes off as quite creepy and terrifying in his portrayal of a twisted serial killer. Elyssa Baldassarri also shines in the role of Kate and her performance says so much just due to her demeanor and facial expressions alone. The rest of the cast is generally well utilized and Michael Thurber always steals whatever scene he's in no matter how short his screen time.
All in all, nothing is really 'normal' about the film NORMAL. It's a film you'll no doubt be impacted by and probably hard-pressed to forget.
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