A chess game of suspense involving a deaf girl and a serial killer locked outside her home in the woods.
It sounds like a cliche with a twist, and it is, but it’s a really good cliche with a twist.
For a start the premise that the lead character Maddie, the deaf writer, who is home alone after a relationship break up, opens up a box of plot twists and devices that are unfamiliar in their familiarity.
Second, Maddie, (Kate Siegel) dominates the movie, even though it’s essentially a double hander, with a superbly sympathetic performance that never gets you shouting “don’t do that”, as is common in this genre.
The tension does not let up from start to finish (and it’s only 82 minutes so doesn’t outstay its welcome) as the masked invader tries to outwit Maddie and vice versa.
The temptation might have been to take Maddie’s disability and, like with Audrey Hepburn’s blindness in Wait Until Dark, use it to her advantage somehow; but that does not transpire. It’s actually her skills as a writer (she is completing her latest crime novel when the would be assassin strikes) that gives her some traction in what should be a one-sided battle.
This is an intelligent, well paced and well shot, low budget slasher movie, but on a higher plane.
I missed the cinema release of this which is a pity because I imagine it looks even better on the big screen as the cinematography (Peter Suschitzky: a hand, if ever there was one, in Scrabble) is outstanding from start to finish. It is aided and abetted by outstanding costumes, make up and design.
As for the locations. They seem unreal, but they are, in fact, all real life Italian and Sicilian delights.
When critics describe movies as visual feasts this is what they are referring too.
But it’s complemented by a number of great performances too from, in particular, Toby Jones, Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassell and Shirley Henderson. If that sounds like an odd job of character actors then you can chuck John C. Reilly in too for good measure. His part is a cameo but a welcome one nonetheless.
I won’t describe the story as too many reviews have picked it apart in detail but suffice it to say it is loosely based on Tale of Tales, an Italian book of fairy tales that inspired Andersen and Brothers Grimm. And grim indeed are elements of these tales. These are three interwoven fairy tales for adults.
Think of Pan’s Labyrinth (but more interesting).
For some astonishing reason IMDB only rates this a 6.4 and when you look at the breakdown of scoring one can see why. 16% of the reviews are 1 – 4 but 29% are 8+ so quite simply it’s a Marmite film.
Me? I love Marmite.
Well, this kind.