OCTOBER 3, 2010
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (SHRIEKFEST)
I enjoyed Solitary, but I wish I didn’t watch Fugue yesterday, because they are very similar movies. I believe the FDA would recommend a period of no less than 16 weeks in between viewing the films, with many zombie/slasher/monster movies in between. Both films are about attractive women who live in West LA homes that are menaced by something involving their husbands. But there’s more - both are having pregnancy issues, both have sisters that look nothing like them coming over to help with their issues, and both films involve balding minority guys that may be able to help our heroines get rid of their ghost type problems. And both take place almost entirely in the character’s house.
But that’s where the differences start, because Solitary is actually about a woman with extreme agoraphobia, meaning she’s afraid of open spaces and thus cannot leave her house for more than 20 seconds without having a panic attack. And unlike Fugue, it’s not really played for scares too much – every now and then we get this random POV shot as she tries to get back into her house or something, but otherwise it’s more of a dramatic thriller. Amber Jaeger is terrific in her first lead role, and like Fugue’s heroine, she’s pretty much in every single shot of the movie, which is a remarkable undertaking for any actor, let alone one in their first lead in a feature.
It also reminded me a bit of Premonition (the Sandra Bullock one), in that it’s ultimately a sort of sad movie about someone letting go of their spouse (when are they going to do one from the guy’s point of view? We have feelings too, dammit!). They sort of cheat us in the way that things are presented, but I don’t think it’s spoiling much to say that a major traumatic event was the cause of her agoraphobia. They tip some things off a bit unnecessarily and awkwardly (the locked room is introduced way too early), and some things are never satisfyingly explained (what’s with the extreme closeup on her computer – which we’ve never seen otherwise – telling us she has a new email?), but overall it works, and you’ll go home and give your spouse an extra big hug.
One thing that’s odd about the movie that kept distracting me was the fact that nearly all of the supporting characters have accents. I can buy it for her husband – she says she met him on a travel assignment (she’s a photographer), but why the cop? Or even her sister? I get that on an indie you don’t have the widest selection of actors, but come on, this is LA. Unless it was a deliberate choice that’s supposed to make us feel a bit “off”, in which case, great choice!
However, they really shouldn’t have started the movie off by killing the family bird, because that’s just going to remind us of Poltergeist. You never want to risk directly reminding folks of one of the all time great haunted house movies, especially when horror fans are likely to be a bit disappointed by the fact that this is barely a horror movie when all is said and done. The ending also drags a bit – we get like three “She understands what is happening and is ready to overcome it” scenes in a row, each with yet another obstacle she needs to overcome. You’re keeping me from tacos, people!
The other movies I saw today are From A Place Of Darkness and Ashes. Darkness may be one of the worst movies I’ve seen at a film festival, so let’s not waste any time on that (I will point out it was copyrighted in 2007 and is already available on Netflix and Amazon, so I’m sort of puzzled why it showed at all). Ashes, however, was a quite good, mostly original take on the zombie/infected movie, with a doctor trying to cure AIDS becoming a victim of a virus that turns you into a rager (like the 28 Days Later folks). It’s deliberately paced (read: slow) and very focused on character, which makes the ending, when all hell breaks loose, all the more tragic. Brian Krause plays the doctor, and he is terrific, and first time director Elias Matar made the most of his tiny budget, not to mention is a post production genius – the movie looks great and is flawlessly edited, yet they just shot it a few months ago! The film rightfully won best feature at Shriekfest, by the way. I would write a full review but as I am swamped and didn’t take notes, I am opting for this. Sorry about that. Note – I am 99% positive it was shot in the same hospital where they shot the show Scrubs. I miss that show. Well, I miss that show from the period it was great (Seasons 1-5 or so).
What say you?