Friday, July 18, 2014

Fantasia Fest Kind of ragged rambling review of ANIMOSITY (2014)

This is a two part review. The first part of this review is the original review I wrote after I saw it for the first time. I then went back  and took a look at the film a second time. The reason I'm giving you two takes on the film is that the first time through I wasn't sure I gave it a fair shake. Watching it I felt distracted. But I went ahead and wrote the film up anyway. Then after writing it up I read a few reviews and thought that maybe I missed something so I went back and watched it again

My first thoughts on the film: 
The film begins with a bit of nastiness a mother dispatches her daughter with a circular saw outside their home in woods. The film then shifts gears as a young couple buys the house from the mother and moves in. He commutes, she stays at home and writes horror movie music. There is no cellphone coverage and the land line hasn't been hooked up. Its all the cliche horror movie tropes until things kind of begin to go sideways...

I'm not sure what I think of this film.

After roughly a half hour where the film lays out a good number of horror movie clichess, the film begins to flip things around.  Things are not what we've been lead to believe, the rug begins to be pulled out from under us. Things begin to click... for a while. Then somewhere along the way the film begins to become obtuse, things are off. Questions began to creep into my head  but sadly the film isn't quite good enough to keep the spell unbroken.

Now to be completely honest how I saw the film (as a screener) may very well affected my viewing. I was not sitting in a darkened theater with no distractions. Instead I was sitting on my bed watching the film  on my laptop, with the house line occasionally ringing. I know I didn't fall into the film fully until about the half way point. I considered going back to try the film again from the start, but I wanted  to see how it all comes out.  As the film spun out I drifted in and out of the film as a couple of plot points left me confused, and forced me to back up the film to try and catch stuff I thought I missed.

When I got to the end of the film I was mixed. the film almost worked for me. Its almost put it all together but the film became a just a bit too obtuse at times... it was trying way too hard to be clever.

After writing that I walked away from the piece and contemplated. I went on line and read some reviews. Then I decided to go back and watch the film again. I don't like to watch a film a second time in close order because unless I'm completely enraptured by the film my attention drifts.  I drifted during the first time through so I figured to try again and force myself to watch the film. (Besides I wanted to see if I could find the something special that other reviews seemed to find in the film)  This then is my reaction to seeing the film a second time.

A word of warning I do let slip with a spoiler because I can't not discuss the film without doing it)

On the second go through I'm still mixed.  Actually the split in my feelings are a bit more pronounced. To me some of the film's set pieces are quite good, but there is a lack of logic and a jaggedness to the plotting that doesn't quite work.

What are the things that bother me?

The woman walking out into the woods with the circular saw. Its more silly than scary and the cry of "Mommy no" doesn't come off as scary so much as weak attempt to change the mood.

I don't like Carries's reaction when she finds a teenager in her house. No matter whats going on it doesn't seem real.

I don't like the obtuseness. I don't like the film builds tension by intentionally not saying anything. Normally I would be fine with the film simply allowing things to play out but seeing the film a second  time I had the feeling that the occasional  lack of clarity and the talk of the experiment are more the work of an over reaching screenwriter.

And the cinematography of anything inside is unremarkable. It looks like a weak inde-drama.

On the other hand most of the money sequences, when taken on their own terms work wonderfully. There is a great tension in the sequences that the film as a whole never generated for me.

Now the sixty four dollar question, should you see it?

If you're a horror fan I'd give it a shot. There is a enough good here to make it worth a shot. I'm not too sure you'll find it to be the be all and all, or at least the calling card that some reviewers have called it.

I'm curious if my feelings for the film are due to the running time being off. The version of the film that I saw ran 102 minutes. All of the official running times from the various screenings its had the film as 112 minutes. Has the film been trimmed?

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