Skidamarink-a-dinkie dink. Skinamarink-a-doo. WHAT. THE HELL. WAS THIS?
This is guaranteed to be one of the most divisive films of the year already; an experiment that will either make you relive the experience of being home alone at night as a kid, jumping at every little sound you hear, or it will bore you to death.
To be honest, it succeeds in what has become a bona-fide staple for horror films and especially analog horror: populating our senses with a sense of discovery and terrifying wonder. For his first time directing, Kyle Edward Ball VERY INTELLIGENTLY takes advantage of all the resources at his disposal: the juxtaposition with the light, the impeccable yet unnerving sound design, how he plays with shadows...turning the idea of a safe haven into an inexplicable experience filled with distressing camera angles and a never-ending cascade of darkness. Kyle doesn’t hold your hand at any point during this and allows the mood to set the scene for the audience to let their imaginations wander with the possibilities.
At this point, you’re probably asking “If you get it, why do you still think it’s bad?” That’s the thing, though: it’s really not bad. IT’S JUST FUCKING BORING. OH MY GOD.
All of these experimental ASMR-horror-esque vibes would’ve been fine if this had carried on for about 30 minutes tops; but no. This is gruesomely and agonizingly stretched out to over 100 minutes just to fill up dead space and the pacing becomes really problematic as it dramatically overplays it’s hand and the runtime crawls on for an eternity. The first few times are welcome but eventually, what’s supposed to be this clumpy, chokehold atmosphere morphs into this walking-through-a-thick-swamp-like feeling that stinks up the rest of the film; the film has an intriguing concept to where it DOESN’T need to invent reasons to spin its wheels forever and yet these sequences drown you in abstract smoke and mirrors. It got maddening when they added in the dreaded jump-scare tactics because it became apparent how cheap the film was becoming after its luster had worn off.
Between the slow-moving pans and long still shots from the cinematography, the grainy filter aesthetic of how the film looks, the cheapness of this film’s technician values begin to rear its ugly head not long after. Editing often cuts off any music cues or scenes too early and feels abrupt, camerawork dissolved into meandering static frames of boredom and they hardly make any use of what little production design is utilized.
Hell, there’s barely a cast in this movie; most of the lines are delivered either off-screen or via ADR and even so, there’s hardly any dialogue either and half of it I couldn’t even make out or understand.
Before anybody harpers on me for not even attempting to understand the point of this movie, yes, I am aware that many of these disconnected images that try to be sold as a story is meant to play in the possibility of a child’s imagination playing tricks on them; letting their nightmares and irrational fears get the better of them and how terrifying one’s own mind can be. There’s a concept bubbling under the surface here about generational trauma, more specifically how innocent children can be trapped in an infinite loop of torture because of a parent's mistakes. It’s impossibly upsetting and can very easily be seen as a number of real life allegories.
It hardly does much, however, to take away how repetitive it becomes watching walls, floors, woodworks, hallways and the TV for almost 2 straight hours. Never mind the realization that even IF any of the audience can pick the story apart for themselves, there’s not really much of a story to decipher here: just a basic allegory stretched out alongside, again, A HUNDRED MINUTES of empty filler that almost feels specifically designed to waste your time. This film has no referent world, for any of these themes or sounds to barely symbolize or suggest anything out of it and any supplemental identifiable backgrounds meant for the audience to leave up to interpretation are less prone to scare them and more inclined to soothe them the hell right to sleep.
It’s been a long ass time since I’ve seen a movie take SO long to accomplish SO LITTLE and it’s a damn shame because Kyle Edward Ball has the passion and commitment to become an entertaining horror director; this was his big success story and I’m happy that he’s going to go on to do hopefully bigger and better things. I, unfortunately, cannot understand or get the hype.
While it succeeds as an ambitious little experience, as a movie, it is disjointed, dull and OUTRAGEOUSLY boring and anything that bores me FAILS.