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A serial killer (Lora Burke) and her next victim form an unexpected relationship.
While I typically do not write reviews in the first person, this one warrants it because I was affected so directly. The film had me hooked in under three minutes by the delivery of narration, the music and its overall tone. Even before I understood who Agnes was or what her role in the story would be, I felt that I wanted to know. And this hook had me wriggling on the line for the duration of the film.
This early hook is actually crucial to the film's success. Approximately one-quarter of the way in, things become darker and there is a tension that provides no relief. This tension, too thick for any knife, continues on for the remainder of the film. Had it started out that say, I may have been tempted to turn it off or at least look away. This is not entertainment, but a form of torture. You will find yourself yelling at the screen, "You idiot! Why don't you run?"
As strange as it may sound, I mean "torture" in the most complimentary way. While this is not a feel-good movie, it clearly is not intended to be. If the audience feels uncomfortable, I am sure the director (Navin Ramaswaran) is quite happy about this mission accomplished. The downside is that such a film does not lend itself to repeated viewings, but at least for those who watch it once, it is something that is likely to stick with you.
Which leaves only one thing left to praise: the fine work from actress Lora Burke. Although a film actress since 2012, this is likely the breakout role for Burke. She successfully goes through the wide range of crazy, from lovable to terrifying. Her narration (as noted above) is so measured, it drives the plot forward. Having had some bad relationships in my time (though none that reached the point of murder), Burke hit all the right notes for me. I felt I was reliving all my worst days. Again, not entertaining, but highly effective in evoking motions.
"Poor Agnes" debuts at Grimmfest on October 6, 2017. Although the audience might want to take a shower after seeing it, I highly recommend that they do.
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