In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island.In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island.In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island.
That's until it starts to resemble a pile of loose ideas and themes, and the last 30-40 minutes feel like someone was trying to make it all come together, while losing the plot.
Dan Stevens has charisma. Give the man more roles! He can carry a scene without effort. Most of the actors here do a really good job, and I thank them, because their talent, in hindsight, masked a lot of meaningless filler. That filler was almost always atmospheric, exciting and sometimes grotesque and haunting - and by itself deserves recognition, but when I think of the scenes as vital part of the story and movie, I can't help but feel that most of the movie was empty, cynically dressing itself to look like it wasn't. Ultimately, I thought most of the characters were wasted as well. That makes me dislike this movie more, because it's pretentious. It doesn't have a beating heart, it really doesn't even have anything to say, if we don't count it as some kind of nihilistic commentary, and even that is ruined when one of the main characters has to explain some of the themes and plot with a few forced lines at the end, just in case someone didn't get it. Yes, I get what the movie pretended it was about. It didn't hit home, it didn't land, and no, I'm not going to watch Transformers after this.
This movie, to me, is the same thing as "Altered Carbon" the series, only more subtle at times, with better acting and better individual understanding of a scene. They both represent something I've come to loathe.
I won't go as far as to say that this film is only torture/misery porn, even if it often is, there is something about it. It's not all lost, it's not all ruined, and if you're the sort of person who cares more about moods and wandering thoughts than an impactful, meaningful story, there's a good chance you will like this one. It isn't popcorn horror, there are no jumpscares, and it can be unsettling. To me, that wasn't enough. I almost feel like movies like these are trying so hard to be different to certain kinds of mainstream movies that they become prisoners of their own ambition, and forget about the core when they're too busy with appearance. Cinematic craftsmanship and surface-level quality can't always hide it.
It's not bad, in many ways it's good and technically quite sound, but I ended up with nothing, Give me a movie with a heart, give me a movie that's composed of vital organs. Don't give me surface, don't give me this. No amount of torture, misery and horror isn't enough to mask all this emptiness. (The cast was awesome though!)
- Jan 13, 2019