Directed by: Brad Anderson
Written by: Brad Anderson and Stephen Gevedon
Starring: David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Josh Lucas
"What are you doing here?"
Today I am going to review a movie that just plain ol' got under my skin. I will do my best not to ruin the plot for you, but it will be difficult to review without some minor spoiler so heads up for the warnings in bold.
A group of Asbestos removal workers are hired at the now closed Danvers State Hospital to do a massive clean up. The leader of the group, Gordon is a quiet and subdued blue collar type who has just been separated from his wife and baby. He puts in a bid on the job that requires the men to clean up the building in lightning fast fashion. Gordon's team consists of 4 men: a partner who has been with the company for years, a smart ass former law school dropout, a womanizing a-hole, and a newbie nephew who happens to be terrified of the dark. As the men explore the dilapidated halls, the creaky floors and the filth ridden cellars their fears are brought to a head when one man doesn't show up for work. Is someone in the building? Is it haunted? What the hell is going on in this once glorious, towering institution?
When I first saw this film some years ago I was immediately taken by its characters. Each character is carefully thought out. Although none of these characters are particularly likeable (with the exception of dear Gordon) the material itself does the unthinkable by luring the viewer willingly into their world. You begin to care for each character. A true example of this is when our young nephew finally faces his fear of the dark. You truly don't want him to have to go there, but he does and he takes you along. The tensions between each character add to the suspense of the piece by creating suspicion in the viewer. There are brilliant performances here as well. Truly a work of horror art.
This film does not, I repeat DOES NOT utilize many of the horror cliches we have come to know and love. There are no cats jumping out...there are no big tittied bimbos breaking their ankles. Not once do you hear the words "C'mon guys....this isn't funny." There are only long, often agonizing shots that are quite clever and slick. The hues used here only add to the dreadful atmosphere. This film doesn't need a lot of extravagant lighting or effects....it simply takes the camera road trip route and takes the viewer on a journey. Mr. Anderson knows how to coax fear from his viewer.
This is some of the most clever, yet simple stuff in modern horror. Too often our horror writers go for shock....here the viewer is forced to follow, create, and piece together what is one hell of a payoff. You will truly shiver at the outcome. This is more of a thinking man's film, whereas a lot of horror today is fluff. This will make you think.
The scares in this film are slow to come, but that's ok. The tension builds are the men explore the facility and halfway through the picture you are looking at your watch wondering where the time went. It is certainly engrossing. These are the types of scares that not only stay with you but make you not want to blink. MINOR SPOILER
For instance, one man finds some old case files in the basement and begins to listen to audio recordings of "Sessions" from a former patient with multiple personality disorder. We are treated to each session via audio tape until we reach Session 9 which will CHILL YOU.
This is definitely a high brow film in the horror cannon so go in expecting a slow burner...not flying body parts.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. This film is scary stuff. It has divided horror fans due to its slow nature, but as we know people tend to love their horror in very particular fashions. I can respect each kind if done well and trust me, this film is done quite well. Check it out.
8 out of 10
HAPPY SLASHING Big Gay Horror Nerds!