10 March 2018 | phenomynouss
This little film plays to nearly all my favorite traits of a horror/mystery type film --- there's very little in the way of a monster or boogin, and the telltale signs of potentially spoopy ghost in the form of weird sounds is not so blazingly obvious as random demonic growls, or soft voices, but in the seemingly random form of knocking or chopping on trees, and flute music.
As well, the film doesn't outright explain or tell us a whole lot, and we're meant to catch up along the way, such as why he's out in the woods on his own, who Claire is, and what the "group" is he is documenting his life for.
the film is about a guy who moves out to a house in the middle of the woods somewhere outside of Washington D.C., part of a support group apparently, and video logging his experiences. Along the way, he starts experiencing odd events, which he begins to document via sound recordings and cameras, including the aforementioned flute music and tree chopping.
This is one of those types of horrors that rely a lot on very subtle technical details rather than big broad frights. For example, rather than having something obvious like a video camera playing without power or battery, or images of hell showing up in a memory card, we get at one point a series of seemingly innocuous shots of the protagonist's hallway taken from 3 different angles on both ends of the hall. The horror comes from the fact that, according to the timestamps, the 3 photographs, taken from one end of the hall to the other, were taken entirely in the span of 1.5 seconds, meaning what ever was using the camera was zipping around at inhuman speed.
A lot of these elements of the horror appear to be thrown out at random, but never bear the sign of being "random" for the sake of randomness. There genuinely seems to be some manner of backstory to the "supernatural" presence which is never fully revealed or explained, and it only makes the film creepier and more unsettling.
The most obvious inexplicable and creepy element is the cat skull nailed to a tree, with the letter "B" carved over it. This is a recurring element which keeps showing up, and is made even creepier by a photo left behind on one of the cameras, apparently taken by the "ghost", without a timestamp, of a dead cat in the daylight and a typed letter next to it that simply reads
"** Bunny by Vandal **
Most beautiful tart.
there's no explanation to this or how it ties in to the "ghost"'s story or if it's the same cat as the skull nailed to the tree, and it's utterly terrifying as is; unexplained, yet tangentially related to what's happening.
With the backstory of the previous owners, the protagonist tries to piece together just what is happening and what is causing it, sometimes resorting to simply yelling out the window at the apparent ghost as it plays the flute. Long, lingering moments tend to follow as you wait, expecting some hackneyed jump scare, maybe a face appears in the window, or a chair inside goes sliding across the room. Instead, the flute playing resumes.
The film doesn't leave the viewers completely in the dark, relying on a sort of exposition dump in the form of an e-mail exchange between him and a woman in Minnesota. But even that expo dump is full of suppositions, as the woman makes clear that she is only guessing based on what he told her.
The film has a rather abrupt ending which I feel could be enough to turn off some viewers, or cause them to outright hate the movie altogether. To me, I felt some visceral disappointment that this genuinely unsettling and fascinating experience was ending, while simultaneously grateful that it doesn't try to go for one absolute explanation over another, inevitably disappointing one group or another.
In a sense, the ending is the logical culmination of the movie's style of mystery; no clear-cut resolution or explanation. No way to comprehend something truly supernatural; only experience it.