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Gone: An 'Is She Crazy, Is She Sane' Psychological Thriller
Jill (Seyfried) doesn’t have the best relationship with the police. After being kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the middle of the forest, which she luckily managed to escape from, the police refused to believe a word she said and stuck her in a mental institution. Fast forward a bit and she’s out of the loony bin, dealing with anxiety problems, carrying a gun and taking kickboxing lessons. She comes home one day from her waitressing job to find her sister gone. Convinced that the kidnapper came back for her and took Molly (Wickersham) instead, she tries to get the police to take her claims seriously, but to no avail. Left with no other choice, she takes to the streets piecing together the clues to find Molly and her kidnapper, before time runs out.
This thriller requires you to suspend your powers of logic for a while. While for the most part it tries to be more of a psychological thriller, the moments which require Jill to do some actual sleuthing are a long shot - to put it mildly. The clues she finds as to the kidnapper’s whereabouts are either absurdly simple or completely farfetched. The latter in particular are a real crime since the kidnapper keeps asserting that he kidnapped Molly to lure Jill. If his aim was truly to lure Jill, the clues he left her wouldn’t have been so discreet, random and easily overlooked.
Also, the characters are pretty shallow. The police officers are uniformly incompetent or lazy or a mixture of both. They stand around looking annoyed for the whole film. As for Jill, she’s rather strange. She fluctuates between two states: one in which she’s single-mindedly obsessed with saving her sister and the other in which she compulsively lies to everyone she meets. The first is logical and, based on her own history with the kidnapper and her relationship with Molly, highly understandable. The latter however is just plain odd. We’re never given a motive or reason for why she’s such a pathological liar and it seems rather out of character. Would somebody in her nerve-wracking situation have it in them to lie so well, or keep their numerous stories straight for that matter? We’re told that Jill stuck to her story for the entire time that she was locked up in hospital. Would somebody who wouldn’t tell a fib to get out of a mental hospital become a chronic liar?
In addition to being a liar, the film also keeps trying to push the possibility that Jill isn’t really all there in the head, though seeing as it’s Jill’s word against that of the useless police force, the idea never really registers the way it should in order to give the film a decent psychological bend and keep the viewers guessing.
Despite its inconsistencies, Gone manages to be a decent, light thriller until the ending which derails the film completely. It’s not innovative and the film is very basic despite the attempt to give it depth. However, it’s rather fast paced and Seyfried makes for a very watchable heroine, even if her character makes little sense and is unworthy of her talent.
At first glance, Oliver Blackburn’s Kristy seems to be just another home-invasion thriller that does very little to elevate the standard tropes of the genre. However, thanks to masterfully-built, slow-burning tension, Kristy still delivers a few delightful frights.
Penned by Anthony Jaswinski, Kristy is set in Portland, Oregon and opens with a news report about a group of missing twenty-something year-old girls whose murdered bodies have been turning up across the country, with their deaths looking to be a result of a satanic ritual.
The story soon shifts its focus on Justine (Bennett); a young college student who gets stuck alone on campus during the Thanksgiving break. Unable to travel home for the holidays – mainly due to lack of finances – she decides to stay behind to hang out with roommate, Nicole (Ash), and use the peace and quiet to catch up on her studies.
After saying goodbye to boyfriend, Scott (Ransone) – who is reluctant of leaving her behind – she learns that Nicole too will leave to spend time with her family in Aspen, leaving Justine completely alone with a couple of security guards and a groundskeeper for company. After stepping off campus to get herself a well-deserved midnight snack, Justine runs into a mysterious hooded girl called Violet (Greene).
It’s not long before Justine learns that she has been followed back to the campus by Violet and her mask-wearing buddies who will do anything in their power to get their hands on another innocent victim.
Light on the gore, but easy on the eye, Oliver Blackburn’s Kristy is enriched with stunning visuals and clever camerawork that allows the audience to feel – and almost taste - the isolation and anxiety that surrounds the film’s heroine. The opening scenes – used to observe Justine’s newly-found solitude – create a fittingly claustrophobic atmosphere.
Forceful and compelling, Bennett proves to be a pretty decent choice for the lead and her transition from a young college girl into a survivor is built well. Greene, on the other hand, doesn’t fare quite as well; bland and expressionless, her contribution was pretty ineffective and, just like the rest of her gang, lacking the edge to make an impact as the villain of the story. The broody demeanour just doen't connect.
Kristy is filled with a sense of implausibility, but if you’re able to suspend your disbelief just a little more and overlook its flaws – the overpowering music cues and some rather predictable and cheesy horror traps, for example – you will find that Kristy is a decent entry to the increasingly saturated horror genre.
Riddled with a long line of groundless and senseless ideas, As Above So Below – the latest entry to the exhausting found-footage horror sub-genre – is heavy on the mood, but short on everything else.
Centred on the myths behind the Catacombs of Paris, As Above So Below follows enthusiastic archaeology professor, Scarlett Marlowe (Weeks), who is desperately trying to get her hands on a magical rock, capable of turning metal into gold, called the Philosopher’s Stone.
Starting off in Iran, Scarlett soon finds herself on the streets of Paris, convinced that the stone – which she’s trying to retrieve in order to honour her late father’s wish – lies hidden somewhere in the Catacombs under Paris. Eager to begin her mission, Scarlett soon reaches out to old flame, George (Feldman), for help as well as documentarian, Benji (Hodge), and a random Parisian explorer, Papillion (Civil), who offers assistance with navigation.
Going into the Catacombs, the team soon begins its search for a long hidden passage that is supposed to lead them to the mythical stone. However, as they start going deeper underground, strange events begin to take place and if they are ever to reach their destination, the team will need to battle the darkness around them that seems to thicken with every step they take.
No matter how sound your idea may look on paper, the key is execution. In the case of this latest found-footage debacle, it is unfortunately, very poor indeed. The power of the mood, although relatively strong and effective, is weakened by the film’s crammed premise which sees plenty of random ideas thrown around without any explanation or point.
Luckily, the cast manages to weather the faults and offer a few relatively convincing performances. Weeks, as a woman who will stop at nothing until she gets what she wants, is persuasive; Mad Men’s Feldman keeps things relatively grounded, and Civil – a somewhat unknown French actor – offers just enough energy to keep things interesting.
However, it’s the writing that is at fault here. Chilling, but not enough to make your blood run cold, As Above So Below is terribly confusing, contrived and awfully claustrophobic and if it wasn’t for its somewhat underwhelming – and seemingly abrupt – finale, things might have turned out differently for this part Tomb Raider part Blair Witch bag of fables and scares.