(director: Jennifer Reeder; screenwriter: Brett Neveu; cinematographer: Christopher Rejano; editor: Mike Olenick; music:CoastalDives; cast: Michael Shannon (Isaac Dees), Kate Arrington (Kelsey Dees), Geno Walker (Ken Barber), Felonious Munk (Terry Gilson), Morgan Reesh (Roberta Wellwood), Theo Germaine (Lyden Knight), Lawrence Grimm (Colin Albertson), Daniel Kyri (Dark Corners); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer; David E. Tolchinsky, Neal Edelstein, Brett Neveu: Shudder; 2022)
“Dreary, low-tech and low-budget paranormal thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Jennifer Reeder (“Knives and Skin”/”Signature Move”) directs this dreary, low-tech and low-budget paranormal thriller, that’s written by Brett Neveu. It looms as a pandemic project that has gone awry.
Ken Barber (Geno Walker), a former alcoholic, is a divorced dad with children, who lives alone after moving to another apartment in an unnamed city, where he covers his windows with newspapers and mixes coffee with Pepto-Bismol as a drink and stuffs birds for his hobby as a taxidermist. He has lost his job because of his drinking problem, and is a shut-in who doesn’t move outside of his apartment. Ken interacts through Zoom, as he chats with his best friend Terry (Felonious Munk) and his ex-wife Kelsey (Kate Arrington) — and Kelsey’s new husband Isaac, in a much too brief cameo by Michael Shannon (real-life husband of Kate).
Ken starts a YouTube channel and follows Terry’s suggestion to relate to a popular occult site, as he tries to cash in on their fame.
On his channel Ken advises others on how to live with a divorce. But when he sees on his computer screen ghosts haunting his apartment (a stuffed bird falls without reason from a shelf and is noticed by Terry), he contacts for advice the online occult specialist Colin Albertson (Lawrence Grimm, in a campy performance), and gets the YouTube paranormal specialist (Daniel Kyri) to investigate and perform an exorcism on him.
The anxiety-ridden Ken confronts supernatural things, but the film fails to build suspense or fright.
Ken sits by his laptop as he tries to put his life back together after his breakdown, and confronts his inner demons while going about his daily life and dealing with his nightmares and apartment ghosts.
Every character stays in their own space, and never intermingles with the other. The film never explodes into an expected horror pic genre film, but settles into being a good idea film that never converts into a well-executed film or one with a thoughtful conclusion.
The earth-shaken message is that too much isolation can be a bad thing leading to a mental illness, which should be verified by those viewers stuck in the ‘lockdown.’
It played at the 2022 FrightFest Glasgow.
REVIEWED ON 3/31/2022 GRADE: C+