The duo of directors Severin Fiala e Veronika Franz, who impressed critics with Goodnight Mommy, returns with a new psychological horror / thriller this time focusing on faith, madness and death, focusing on just three characters in the space of a house and their forced coexistence. Repeating the same cycle in which two boys collide with an adult, the duo tries to reach the success of the previous film, which saw a mother “face” her twin children; this time the figure to attack, for the children, will however be the new companion of the father. At the risk of becoming monotonous, the two directors therefore decided to launch their bet in the hope of winning. We at Resources4Gaming went to preview it to see if they succeeded in the enterprise or not.
A past that does not want to leave
After the death of his ex-wife (Alicia Silverstone), Richard (Richard Armitage) organizes a weekend in the mountains with his children (Jack Martell and Lia McHugh) and his new partner (Riley Keough), the only survivor of a religious sect. Although the two openly hate her, the hostility between the family members will fade into the background when they are surprised by a snowstorm, while her past will come back to haunt her and a dark presence will make its way inside the house.
At the second collaboration, Fiala and Franz try to resume the success of their first job with an unsatisfactory result; the plot, in fact, is basic and directed towards a single logical thread that does not allow the viewer to doubt about the future development of the film, which a product focused on the psychological factor like this should at least try to do. Everything we see gives the impression of be something already seen or already addressed in other films; twists, settings and machine technicalities fall into clichés used over and over again in the horror field, leaving little room for the thriller factor if not right in those phases in which it could not be done otherwise. Cold, dull filters change shades of blue from the inside to the outside as per the book with the small exceptions of the moments when the film warns you that something is about to happen by adding a totally unnecessary gray shade. Photography does not throw itself off balance or risk remaining faithful to the concept of psychological horror with close shots on details or slow zooms pursued by the crescendo of the soundtrack, also quite obvious, with distorted violins always focused on crescendo with almost total absence of a bass support.
Strong point of the product are the actors, exceptional interpretations that push the film a lot. Between simple glances and with the due silences they manage to empathize with the public, revealing themselves capable of transmitting all kinds of sensations and emotions with a disarming simplicity; the only flaw is the translation that blurs the importance of certain dialogues - already very few - with sentences spoken with extreme superficiality or, on the contrary, with gravity outside a specific context. With the passing of the minutes, characters characterized particularly well are taking shape in the film, especially that of Grace and her relapse into a past that is now, according to him, forgotten. There is certainly no shortage of references in the film, like that of the sect mentioned above, representing in fact a reference to the famous Heaven's Gate, a sect that really existed in 1997, in which one of the largest mass suicides in history took place, with 39 people who took their own lives for their faith .
A psychological horror / thriller like many others, in short, not exceptional but not much below average. It certainly deserves a second non-technical view to better understand the various facets of intrinsic psychology that it tries to address to the viewer, who will be able to understand with many difficulties. The premises of the two directors are from many points of view good and equally valid, with some precautions to the operational sector, as the technical one is already very advanced in itself; surely with a more substantial budget they would be able to create something extremely unusual and interesting, without forgetting that they are at the second collaboration and the second feature film. They are definitely to keep an eye on and to follow, as long as they manage to deviate from the “kids versus adults” trend, which in the long run could start to be stale; is looking forward to their next job very willingly and with not a little curiosity.