(director/writer: Braden Croft; cinematographer: Ian Lister; editor: Braden Croft; music: David Arcus/Michelle Osis; cast: Sara Garcia (Avery Malone), John Cassini (Caleb Conrad), Julian Black Antelope (Peter Lavigne), Julian Richings (Lenny Rupert); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Julian Black/Sarah Moore/ Michael Peterson/Sheiny Satanove ; 775 Media Corp; 2019-Canada)
“Logic has no place here.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Auteur Braden Croft (“Feed The Gods”/”Hemorrhage”) does a nice job of getting some chills from this indie thriller and executing a well-crafted film. It’s a film that requires the viewer to have a suspension of disbelief, or else it just won’t work–logic has no place here, as it aims to blur the lines between reality and fiction.
Avery (Sara Garcia) is a lonely and insecure librarian aspiring to be a famous writer like her favorite author Caleb Conrad (John Cassini), who is a recluse. Caleb hasn’t written a book of note in years, which doesn’t stop Avery from still admiring him. The opportunity to work with Caleb knocks for her when he selects her to be his assistant. She is assigned to work with him on his remote cabin estate and is left there without any devices to communicate with the outside world. He uses her to do a controlled psychological experiment in fear that will supposedly serve as the theme for his next novel. The experiments include the use of the following measuring devices: lie detector tests, psychological tests, Rorschach inkblots, viewing horror films, night vision shots of her sleeping and of her in a full body sensory deprivation suit.
Things turn bizarre during these experiments as the subjects begin to reveal themselves. She begins seeing and hearing things that may not exist and soon suspects Caleb might be a serial killer using her as his muse for his next novel.
Croft’s film, inspired by Michael Powell’s great 1960 thriller Peeping Tom, explores the boundaries between fear (reality) and fiction (escape). It does so by playing tense games between author and muse, games that turn strange, devious and twisty before revealing in the surprising end what really are Caleb’s intentions in these experiments.
The intense manic performance by Sara Garcia was marvelous, giving the work an edginess. While the measured performance by Cassini offers a good contrast.
The film had its world premiere at the Fantaspoa film festival.
REVIEWED ON 8/17/2019 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/