Review

  • On arriving in small town USA a troubled girl is contacted by the dead, and her family must fight to end her troubles ...

    A slow but evenly paced drama that treads the line between the literal and the metaphorical. The intro delivers a blunt shock, then we explore the world of the heroine as she mopes about before contact is made. The horror effects are mostly jumpy, with a few imaginative visuals, but I don't think this really hits the horror mark.

    It's similar in tone to The Babadook, which was draining to watch, but at least this movie has some literal spooks and doesn't make the mistake of leaving the story on the metaphorical level. It's also less affecting than Magic Magic, which deals with a girl spiralling into madness and isn't so linear. The drama is underpowered, I think, because the heroine doesn't change when contact is made - really, she just gets a little more depressed and erratic, so there's no contrast.

    There's almost zero need for male input, which would be interesting if the female characters weren't forever falling tearfully into each other's arms. The priest seemed pointless, and there's one odd scene with a guy in mask, which I wanted to see play out but may have been a left-over from a theme that was edited out. One thing I did appreciate is how miserable the American way has become, with bills for useless medical treatment and military service and underemployment - although indie films like this pack nowhere near the punch of similar stuff from the '70s.

    The acting is good, with good dialogue and timing in a flashback scene at the swings. The sound creates a spooky mood through plucked strings and humming cellos, and there's an off-key folk song that gets repeated. Effective, but the music is constantly "on" with no space for silence, so I ended up wondering how the story would play with just ambient sound - probably unwatchable. The photography and editing are good.

    Overall: Thoughtful, bit of a drag.