Low budget flicks like this are hard to gauge. Should you give it credit for overcoming a shoestring budget? Or should you note that its limitations don’t quite allow for a fully-formed film?
In this case, I went with the latter, but if you talked to me on a different day, I could be convinced to bump it up into the “B” range. Ultimately, it falls in the category of “nice little film” that could’ve been a helluva lot better with a cash infusion. It’s the kind of movie where you find yourself muttering, “Was this shit funded by Kickstarter?” and then you go and look it up, and sure enough, this shit was funded by Kickstarter.
What works: An intriguing plot about a woman living in the L.A. valley whose husband has gone missing. No note, no body, no clues as to where he fucked off to. Just…gone. It’s been seven years, so she’s having him declared legally dead “in absentia.” This lady’s much hotter younger sister comes to stay with her to help her through the transition, but maybe she’s just there because she’s a druggie with no options. Some good sister drama there.
The malevolence revolves around this pedestrian tunnel near their house. Hot Younger Sister goes jogging through it an encounters an apparent homeless man in rough shape. She stops to check on him, and he’s amazed that she can see him. He cries “It must be asleep!” as she retreats the fuck out of there. Nice hook. This, of course, makes Thing in the Tunnel suspect #1 in the whole “What happened to my husband?” mystery. Complicating matters, the detective who’s been investigating the dude’s disappearance has impregnated the wife. He’s also a woefully shitty actor.
Which brings us to what doesn’t work. I can’t see any of these actors making a living doing this, with the possible exception of Hot Younger Sister. It has one of those let’s-cast-our-friends-who’ll-work-for-snacks vibes. Then there’s the problem of Thing in the Tunnel. It’s apparently not confined to the tunnel, as there’s some creepy happenings inside the nearby house. But you never really get a sense of what the thing is. It’s always in the shadows, and the director employs all those quick cuts that you have to use when you don’t have the special effects budget to build something scary on camera.
You could do worse than checking this out on Netflix streaming, but you’ll probably be left with the same decent-but-not-great feeling I had at the end. I was left wondering what the director (Mike Flanagan) could do with a bigger budget, but Bloodcrypt Keeper has your answer. Maybe the bargain bin is where Flanagan should stay.