Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Someone's Knocking at the Door

I feel sorry for anyone that reads the back of the case for Chad Ferrin's Someone's Knocking at the Door. The description fails entirely to capture what drives the movie forward, and while the trailer may give rise to some hopes for fun to be had, you'll still likely be clueless. The 76 minutes that ensue are deviant and skewed. A jacked up story that is simultaneously revolting and hysterical and perfectly captures the essence of indie film making in horror in the new millennium, superbly balancing it's influences with its own voice.

The loose basis for the film revolves around several med students whose friend meets his demise after messing around with some experimental drugs during study hall. At the same time, two previously incarcerated serial murderers terrorize the students and they begin to lose their grip on reality or what's actually happening. And that's the best synopsis you're likely to get. From me or anyone else who has seen the movie. This one's not about the plot, though, it's about what it does to the viewer while watching.

It plays out like a color test by the emergency broadcast network, with tonal, auditory shifting through the duration. Jump cuts and subliminal messaging cleverly strewn throughout, the entire experience is basically just a bit over an hour long excuse for Ferrin to mess with your head. And it's not simply the subtleties that will mess with your perceptions here. Just as gratuitous as the wanton drug use depicted are the scenes of assault that ravage the characters in the film. There's a lot of male rape going on here, and it's not really disguised at all. You'll probably try not to look, but it's so preposterous and messed up you'll be hard pressed to glance away. It's nasty and potentially nihilistic, but only in observation.

The cast is mostly good here, but Noah Segan specifically does outstanding work as the lead. Previously in Deadgirl and Brick, Segan is becoming a bit of an indie favorite and in this it's no wonder why. His performance is manic and insane, a twitchy, stuttering outburst of energy and enthusiasm with enough underlying angst and wit to make his character grounded in a reality a lot of people aren't familiar with, and honestly shouldn't want to be. He exceptionally conveys and carries the weight of the movie.

Just as good is the direction of Chad Ferrin (Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!), another name to add to the list of awesome low budget directors like Ti West and Adam Green. He plays with the audience and manipulates whatever it is you think you just saw, isn't really what you just saw. This is basically his Jacob's Ladder, with a bit of Apocalypse Now and Spun thrown in for good measure. But don't also mistake it as derivative. Yes, there's a lot of homage going on here, but just as much is a unique voice that we don't get to see as often as we'd like in horror flicks these days. While the run time may play out as hyper-actively all over the map, there's a definite message and it hits pretty hard once you get to the reveal, but thankfully unlike Mr. Shyamalan's one trick pony Sixth Sense or Alexandre Aja's pompous High Tension (albeit enjoyable), Someone's Knocking at the Door is incredibly rewatchable.

Bear in mind, though, that it's far from a safe movie. It's not a subscriber to the "less is more" camp of horror. Not a lot is left to the imagination, and the violence and gore can get pretty overwhelming. In all it's bluntness, though, it contributes to the whole "what the hell am I watching?" experience. It simply leaves you more disoriented and in as much the overall effect of the film is that much more impacting. You'll also know within five minutes if you'll have the stomach for it, as Ferrin's not afraid to just lay his cards out on the table early on, a gamble that works effectively well.

I really don't want to ruin it for you. Really. Anymore of my attempts at explanation or exposition would spoil the whole thing. Let me just summarize, then, what I've already basically alluded to if not outright said already. Someone's Knocking at the Door is not just clever and depraved, it's potentially important as well. Not just in the message it relishes relaying, but in bringing to bear a new voice in indie horror. As good, if not better than Ti West's other awesome flick of 2009, House of the Devil, it's a shockingly complex homage with guts rivaling the most twisted pics of the 80's, a true exploitation flick with a point to make. A messed up and trippy movie, more thoughtful watchers will likely be thinking about it days after seeing it... and you should, if you like messed up trippy movies.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

well done as usual!