I was destined to watch this movie at the specific time that I watched it. I’m certain of it, because
- I was stabbed in the thigh yesterday… just like Maddie, the main character, was. (Only I stabbed myself by accident, and it wasn’t anywhere near as deep as her injury. Mine just needed a couple band-aids. But still!)
- When watching the movie for the first 5 minutes my sound system was actually not working, so my world was as quiet as hers.
- A person arrived on my doorstep unexpectedly, and in costume.
Why I was destined to watch this movie? I have no idea, but it certainly feels like destiny. And after listening to the review the guys over on Trick or Treat radio did, I was intrigued and wanted to watch it. So let’s talk about:
Here’s the basic details:
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Home Invasion
Released: April 2016
Synopsis from IMDB: “A reclusive author who went deaf as a teenager finds herself hunted by a deranged masked killer inside her isolated home, sending her into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in order to survive the night.”
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Written by: Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel
Ok, I’m not usually one to watch home invasion movies, so right off the bat, this might not be the film for me. (They just freak me out waaaay too much. It’s the one form of horror that hits too close to home fore me. But anyone who’s lived through a robbery probably feels the same way.) That being said, I do love character driven movies and films that take the time to add a unique concept into the mix.
Maddie was deaf and mute and those elements alone made for an interesting film.
The fact that Maddie herself could not make a sound made her character so much stronger. No over-dramatic slasher movie screams and faux tears here. Siegel’s performance made the terror and pain all too real.
And without the ability to hear when the killer was uncomfortably close the tension was palpable. And even had me yelling things at the screen to warn her. Not that it would have helped… even if she wasn’t a screen… *awkward turtle*
That aspect of the “cat and mouse” game was really well done. The killer plays with her from the get-go. sneaking around and taunting her for the first portion of the film. That 1st section of the cat and mouse game was suspenseful and well crafted, but then…
Is it dead yet?
The ring-around-the-rosie portion of the movie went on for way too long. Like to the point of, “aren’t you getting bored yet, Mr. Killer-man?” And even though this dude said he wouldn’t break into the house until she’d “given up all hope”, it did get a little ridiculous when it started to feel like all of the glass windows were magic force-fields of protection that made the circling keep going on.
Three generally insignificant things really bothered me while watching this movie.
- Maddie says she’s getting weak and dizzy from loss of blood after only one injury to her thigh. I call bull. The wound she got would not cause so much blood loss that you’d pass out. However, her injuries did catch up with her symptoms later on, so it felt more believable then.
- Killer-man received a very nasty injury to his right arm early on in the story. Yet somehow, a-la Jason Vorhese, never suffered from it and had no problems going through his nefarious tasks.
- BREAK THE FREAKIN’ GLASS!!
Maddie’s hiding out in a very open house with lots and lots of windows. And yes, I realize killer-man made a point of choosing to mess with her, but still. It took this dude way too long to say “Hey. The only thing between her and my satisfaction is rock meeting this thin pane of glass. Let’s break some sh–”
The technical work though…
So aside from those moments, I actually enjoyed the film because you could tell that there was some proper thought put into it’s creation.
It was beautifully shot with some phenomenal sound design going on. The score was very minimal and special care went into everything we heard in the world around her. They even took moments to muffle all of the sound so that we could be brought deeper into her experience. That was a well used device to build tension and would have been even more effective if we, as the audience, saw less of the killer lurking behind her. I would have liked to have been surprised by his approach a little more often.
The gore and special effects brought some very cringe-worthy scenes.
Killer-man’s first kill on screen went on forever. The sounds of meat being stabbed over and over and over again had me so incredibly uncomfortable. Nice job guys!
There’s also a few scenes were some pretty gnarly injuries happen that are still making my skin crawl, they looked so believable.
Isolation and relationships
One of the beautiful things this film succeeded in doing was taking enough time to build-up the relationships Maddie had with the people in her life. Her neighbor Sarah, her old heart-throb, and her kid sister. This helped to make her feel like a real person. They also took enough time for us to get to know her friends and family to feel sympathy for the things that happen to them in the film. By giving her social connections some depth, they made her isolation in the woods and in the night all that more tangible.
3.5 out of 5 stars blood-spattered stars. It’s an interesting and well produced movie that fell a little flat for me in places. But if you’re having a Netflix night and want to see a thoughtfully made thriller, it’s worth checking out.
You can watch the film on Netflix