Greetings again from the darkness. Coming from the IFC Midnight stable, this first feature film from writer-director Charlotte Colbert and co-writer Kitty Percy, may be judged as a thriller or horror, depending on one’s perspective. By creating an ominous atmosphere, the movie highlights how certain events can grab hold and remain with us, often buried deeply, for our entire life. We don’t always know how these memories will manifest or how or when we deal with them, but if the scars remain, a reckoning likely follows.
Alice Krige is perfectly cast as Veronica, an aging movie star. She’s coming off a double mastectomy and is expressing more than a touch of grumpiness towards her much younger nurse Desi, played well by relative newcomer Kota Eberhardt. Veronica has booked an extended stay for rehabilitation at an isolated countryside manor, and though she and Desi have a private cabin on the grounds, Veronica is quite miffed that there are other guests in the main house … with odd therapy sessions led by Tirador (played by an almost unrecognizable Rupert Everett).
Almost immediately, strange things begin to occur and much of it is related to the earth and ground. The mud seems to have supernatural effects on Veronica’s visions and dreams. This is explained as healing power due to the heavy presence of ashes from witches burned at the stake many years prior. The memories of a traumatic event return to Veronica. She was a child actor in a film by the legendary Hathbourne (the always great Malcolm McDowell), and now he is re-casting for a remake of that film. So as Veronica faces her perceived loss of femininity at the edge of scalpel, she’s also dealing with fears of aging as the same filmmaker recreates a project she is now too old for.
Symbolism is entrenched in the film, and the approach to Veronica’s revenge on Hathbourne is handled through mysticism that can’t easily be explained … though it’s a welcome new approach to the #metoo movement. One of my favorite aspects of the film is how the initial gulf between Veronica and Desi gradually changes as the two generations of women bond over their strength. Italian ‘Master of Horror’ Dario Argento is a producer on the film, and though we don’t know what input he had, it’s quite a compliment to Ms. Colbert to state her debut film deserves to be mentioned alongside his.