Let’s see what is in season.
Yay! A new Mickey Keating film. Folks who have read this blog for a while know that I have enjoyed just about everything Keating has directed. He has an oddball, artsy, and direct way of telling stories that clicks with me. Does this new one hold up to the standard?
We follow Marie as she is forced to go back to her hometown island after her mother’s grave is vandalized. Shortly after arriving, things seem a bit weird. Something seems a bit… off. The locals are weird and why they wanted her to come back is not entirely clear. Mixed with a playful soundtrack that ranges between over-the-top and somber we get a strange juxtaposition of tone and feeling.
I think Keating is getting more playful with each film. He has a vision and is carrying it through but is also aware of what the audience expects. He subverts us when needed and shows us what we expect at other points. I do think Darling is his masterpiece, but each film he makes has a unique feeling in it. There is an underlying tension or drama that the characters bring into the film before the story starts.
This may be Keating’s most conventional directing. We have a sort of noir set-up with an almost classic haunting vibe. Solid shots and good dialogue propel the early narrative. It is odd that he seems more playful with sound this time than the camera tricks. This isn’t a bad thing, just a bit unexpected.
This is such a classic horror story. Everything is set up in such a traditional way. The people in the town are so weird and creepy and our heroes are unable to put the pieces together in enough time.
You might be wondering why our characters being not so smart here isn’t bothering me as much as in other films. The difference here is that our characters make bad decisions but are not necessarily dumb. Marie is spooked and wants to get out but also wants to do right by her mother. The townspeople are creepy, but more in an asshole way than an overtly dangerous way. Well, at least at first.
Also, also, they do make an attempt to leave once they decide that something is indeed wrong. The narrative is aware of the classic tropes and wants to uproot them lightly without removing them completely. The boyfriend (husband? No, probably not) is still a complete jackass who doesn’t believe Marie when she starts piecing things together.
Sorry Keating, the whole not believing someone you care about drives me nuts. Even if he didn’t believe her, I don’t think he’d be an asshole about it. I don’t know. I didn’t like that aspect.
Anyway, the story is a weird mixture of Silent Hill and other creepy tales with a strange town. It layers the oddness into the story as our simple tale becomes something more. We end up with a clever protagonist who is stuck one step behind what is happening as the situation becomes even more dire.
The scenes with Marie and her mother (via memories) are top notch. Great work here.
Overall, this is a tense and weird horror film that plays as very conventional but is anything but as you get deeper into it. I’d say watch this one and then check out the rest of Keating’s work.
Excellent work once again. Worth a watch.