With Lady Pam De Graff
GRAVE (2013) independent
WRITTEN BY: Chris Borey and Eddie Borey
DIRECTED BY: Gonzalo López-Gallego
FEATURING: Sharlto Copley, Joseph Morgan, Thomas Kretschmann, Erin Richards, Josie Ho, Max Wrottesley, Kati Dombi
GENRE: HORROR THRILLER
TAGS: mystery, psychological thriller, sci-fi
RATING: 6 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: Six strangers find themselves in a remote location, with a lot of dead bodies around, and no memory of who they are or how they got there.
COMMENTS: When a man, John, (Sharlto Copley) awakens in a deep concrete pit full of dead bodies, matters look grim, but a stranger throws him a rope enabling his escape. Wandering through the night, he locates a country manor, its occupants; the woman who rescued him, and four others. The tentative refuge offers a tenuous sanctuary at best.
Suspected of knowing more than he admits, John's greeting is hostile. The trouble is, John doesn't remember who he is -or even at this point, that his name is John. He's in kindred company in that regard. Everyone else is suffering from same acute memory loss. The quintet's members don't know who they are, where they are, or how they wound up in the house. Some reconnoitering uncovers deep trouble in the heavily wooded countryside. The entourage discovers bodies -a lot of them, a crazy woman chained in a shed, and the presence of surveillance cameras. Someone is watching them, but who, and why?
Inevitably, group paranoia descends upon the party, cloistering them like a
clinging funeral shroud. The woman who rescued John knows something, but she's
mute and doesn't understand English. Ties to the outside world are cut-off, and
it's possible at least one member of the group is a conspirator.
The participants uncover clues as they scout their remote surroundings for answers, and a means of escape. Getting out proves impossible as it becomes apparent that there are much greater dangers at large. The rapid approach of an impending doom forces all involved to confront mounting indications that they are key players in calamity which has connected their pasts. Cryptic signs warn that something is coming -something huge and awful, and to survive it, they must pull together and discover the common denominator which holds the key to their deliverance.
With Open Grave, Apollo 18 director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego manages to deliver a
well thought-out, tense thriller. The film begins with shadings of movies about
people finding themselves trapped in enigmatic dilemmas, such as Saw (2004),
Exam (2009), and Killing Room (2009), then becomes one in which the captives
seem caught in some kind of morbid reality show, as in My Little Eye (2002), and
Four Boxes (2008). Open Grave doesn't go in either of these directions.
As it evolves in its own unique direction, the premise naturally leads to rapid second guessing and speculation on both our part and that of the characters. Everyone's a suspect and their personalities clash amid fits of self doubt, misinterpretation of facts, and mutual suspicion. Continual, unexpected developments and twists keep us all off balance. While the plot's initial build-up promises something bigger than what we get, as the evidence gels, additional suspense is created by a race against time and the seeming hopelessness of the situation. There's enough complexity to keep things interesting, but not so much that the idea becomes silly, or bogged down in convolutions. Strong casting and the filmmakers' effective sense of timing carry the idea through and make Open Grave on of the better horror thrillers of 2013.
You can stream it HERE!
WRITTEN BY: Javier Gullón based on the novel by José Saramago
DIRECTED BY: Denis Villeneuve
FEATURING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Joshua Peace, Tim Post, Kedar Brown
GENRE: MYSTERY, THRILLER
RATING: 8 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A man entangles himself in an obsessive quest after discovering his exact double.
COMMENTS: Enemy is about the uncertainty of losing
one's sense of self, leading to dangerous masquerade. Based on José Saramago's
offbeat novel, The Double, Enemy is due to be released on DVD on June 24th. The
picture is about a dowdy poli-sci professor, Adam, (Jake Gyllenhaal) who fixates
on a man who looks just like him.
Given Adam's humdrum existence of routine university duties, a conventionally uninspired apartment, and an emotionally disengaged wife, ordinary Adam is primed to seize upon the intrigue promised by this extraordinary revelation. Adam is...just plain boring. Unremarkable aside from his academic credentials; uncreative in bed, conservative in his personal life, he doesn't even take pleasure in watching movies. He makes an exception when a coworker cryptically recommends one. In its cast, Adam catches fleeting glimpses of an extra drifting about the background. The actor, named Anthony, looks just like Adam.
Adam succumbs to an unwholesome drive to learn everything about Anthony. It
gives way to clumsy stalking efforts culminating in a direct confrontation.
The concept of doubles and bi-location has been around since Pythagoras. Ghostly duplicates manifest themselves in Egyptian mythology and Norse folklore. Testimony of bi-location intermingles with accounts of miracles in Catholic religious history.
More recent incarnations appear in Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; in the film Dead Ringers (1988), about the the discordant relationship between two twins (Jeremy Irons) -SPOILER- one of whom proves to be the mad other's alter ego; in The Dark Half (1993) about a man (Timothy Hutton) obsessed with his evil twin who may or may not be real; and in David Lynch's 1997 film Lost Highway, about parallel planes in which a "Mystery Man" (Robert Blake) appears in two locations at once.
The theme of duplicate people thrives in the sci-fi films Doppelganger, AKA Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) about a mirror version of Earth in which an astronaut's double (Ian Hendry) has organs on the wrong side of his body, and in Another Earth (2011) where a young woman (Brit Marling) seeks absolution via the conviction that her double on a mirror Earth hasn't committed her crime.
The term, "doppelganger," and it's description of a supernatural exact double may have been coined by German author Jean Paul in 1796 in his novel, Siebenkäs. Word and concept appear again in E.T.A. Hoffmann's Gothic, 1815, The Die Elixiere des Teufels (The Devil's Elixirs). It is in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 1846 novel, The Double, that the idea merges into popular culture. The Dosoyevsky's doppelganger is the one we know; a precise duplicate in appearance of a feckless protagonist, yet the exact opposite in personality -confident, competent, and menacing.
We encounter this malevolent doppelganger in the films, The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970), about a business executive (Roger Moore) whose self-assured, risk-taking double steals his life; in Tom Tyron's novel and fim adaptation, The Other (1972), about a cherubic lad (Lee Montgomery) whose murderous twin may or may not reside among the living; in Doppelganger (1993) with Drew Barrymore, about a young woman stalked by her homicidal duplicate; in Doppelganger (2003), when a timid man's doppelganger employs unorthodox methods to advance him; in The Double (2013), based on Dostoevsky's novel about a man upstaged and manipulated by a better version of himself; and in Bilocation (2014), about a woman whose strident duplicate seeks to slay her.
Enemy is no exception to the trend. It begins inexplicably with a surreal scene in a clandestine, Hellfire Club sex salon where a woman gives birth to a tarantula. Enemy moves on to short scenes establishing Adam, and the introduction of his doppelganger, whose life Adam awkwardly infiltrates.
Anthony is forceful and provocative. His life is action-oriented, his apartment chic, his girlfriend a fertile tempest. Intrigued, the academic Adam seeks an analytical resolution. Thespian Anthony, a professional experiencer, seizes upon the encounter and forcefully machinates a psycho-sexual scheme to impose himself into Adam's existence.
Revelations of key information which Adam loses the stomach to pursue suggest
numerous potential outcomes. Tension builds as the characters' interrelations
are fractured by Adam and Anthony's intersection. The collision fosters a
perpetual, latent sense of apprehension. The unease permeates scenes in which
the quietly desperate characters barely suppress an undercurrent of squirming
emotions. Adam is the fulcrum of the turmoil, alternately fueling it through his
actions, and at its mercy as he copes with a divorce from his reference points
Director Denis Villeneuve's cinematography is a carrier wave for Adam's de-actualization. It's duplicitous of Atom Egoyan's ethereally leaden filming style. Darkly tinted, dimly-lit, crypt-like interiors, and voyeuristic framing, as if spying through windows, distinguish the picture throughout. Enemy sports prolonged shots, maddeningly wrought with a sustained deliberation. They confront the unpleasant, and head unwavering right into the middle of it.
Densely developed Toronto provides an imposing backdrop with its austerely utilitarian metropolitan condos. The honeycombs of residences overflowing from the looming edifices coalesce like cells constructing a larger organism. The creature is a stoic, detached urban entity, dwarfing and indifferent to its citizens and their dramas playing out within its crevices. The city holds its occupants as would a web, and it's representation suggests a schizophrenic's impression of reality as a being a gloomy, gargantuan machine seeking to grind him up in its gears.
Like a life-after-people setting, exterior camera angles are shifted upward, cropping out signs of human occupation such as traffic and pedestrians. A solemn score bypasses the customary tapestry of urban background sounds and interior room presence.
A couple of brief shots in the film suggesting hallucination or cinematic asbsurdism clandestinely foreshadow enemy's sudden, surprise ending. The next to final frame is the climax and brings the story full circle to the twisted logic of its opening.
The media is already abuzz with interpretations of this finale. which combined with several minor story elements, has triggered hypotheses of symbolism. These facets of the movie, such as Adam's university lecture about totalitarian social control, are merely passing nods to themes which The Double author José Saramago explores in his other works. These elements add to enemy's enigma, but they are murky, and too incomplete to substantiate effective allegory
Enemy provides the most impact if one takes the ending literally; the opening sequence supports it. Doing so dramatically chorales the horror and irony.