Friday, September 14, 2012
Now, after 15 minutes, I wasn't really digging the film, and I almost turned it off. Could have been due to a long day, a hard workout, an evening of playing with the baby, a preceding hour of reading, and so on, because, man, I was tired! But, despite the odds (in terms of me, the viewer) being stacked against the film, it captured my interest. I was compelled to stick it out. It was tough to stick with for the first 30-40 minutes, due to its pacing and its redundant character study of Suziey and her monotonous, humdrum, super banal existence in LA. I mean, I get that they want to pull us into the redundant misery of such a boring life, but this is tough to do in film without losing your audience's interest. Unfortunately I have no constructive advice; and at the same time, I was engaged enough to stick with it, despite being tired; so maybe my complaints are moot after all.
Suziey Block, who apparently made her film debut in The Island, is a great lead and yet another of my recent string of new faces in horror (including the superb performance of Gretchen Lodge in Lovely Molly). And it's a good thing, too, because this was yet another demanding role of yet another strong female lead. (I'm reminded, too, of Elizabeth Olsen's performance in Silent House.) All of these names I've mentioned have had roles that call for them to carry the film's success on their shoulders. As many reviewers have pointed out, these leads have been in nearly every shot of their respective films. And in Block's case, the role calls for her to execute the balancing act of being likeable while portraying a bland personality due to the blunting that her daily life has effected on her. Luckily, Block transcends the script's redundancy and pulls us into her life.
After sloughing through that first half of this fairly short film, the horror/thriller elements come into play. Entrance continues the strain of subtle horror movies; it eschews jump-scares and stinging scores in exchange for the more realistic and cringe-inducing silence and limited-frame camera perspectives. I wasn't as scared or on-edge as much as the other films I've mentioned in the previous paragraph, but I was engrossed in the film's chill in a way I can only recall with Michael Haneke and David Lynch films. It was that what is going on here? where is this film taking me? sort of experience. So, yeah, more of a mystery type of movie, but without all the overt red herrings. Suziey is heckled by some guys on the street (since she has to walk to and from work each day); her dog goes missing; someone in a tinted-windowed car messes with her at night, as she walks home alone; and then some thrills from within her house. All of these moments are deftly executed in terms of pacing and intensification, meaning that they are well spread out and steadily increase in creepiness.
In the end, we're rewarded with a very impressively done piece of work from an independent film of this nature. The final scenes are well composed, keeping with our lead's perspective of course, and unexpectedly violent. "Unexpectedly" because the film stays immersed in such normalcy, such reality for so long that the violence shocks us the way it would in real life. Plus, by this point, we're smitten with Suziey and it's gut-wrenching to see anything malicious happen to her. And although we do have a reused format of a killer in the house with various sharp weapons, these scenes aren't drawn out--killer and Suziey do not chase and hide, chase and hide, chase and hide, trip, break ankle, drag body, etc. It's very straightforward, and, at the final moment, a very unexpected ending for a slasher, in which (as we've learned from Leslie Vernon) we expect to see our Final Girl. having that last moment of domination over the killer's phallus.