Boozie Movies nurses its Hangover at BUFF 2011 with The Corridor
I guess making a niche for yourself as the writer of a series of film critiques titled Boozie Movies has it pros and cons. In the age of the internet blogger, there sure are a lot of people out there writing film reviews and unless you're writing for one of the top dogs such as ScreenAnarchy, getting those coveted press badges for film festivals is getting a lot more competitive.
So I came up with a fun little gimmick and it kind of stuck. While my name itself might not mean much still, when I mention Boozie Movies and ScreenAnarchy, I'm shocked by how many people are familiar with my writing. But now that I am trying to do more, I hope the jokey alcoholic moniker doesn't become too much of a crutch or hinder me from moving forward.
I had already tossed back a solid 4 vodka sours before meeting The Corridor's screenwriter, Josh MacDonald, at a BUFF after party. So I'm no position to quote the man directly or accurately. But when he gave me a screener, I do remember him saying something along the lines of, "I know we're at BUFF and all, but this isn't like Hobo with a Shotgun. My film isn't nessecarily right for a Boozie Movie review. This isn't a good late night movie to get drunk to. It's a 4pm on a Saturday type of movie, a slow burn you watch while nursing a hangover. Maybe you could start a new column for movies that are good for hangovers."
That's actually an ingenious idea and I might just have to run with it if I can find a way to actually sustain it. It's no fun writing with a hangover, however, a few glasses of whiskey and you can't get me away from a keyboard. Still, for now, Josh MacDonald has already done my job for me because his suggestion is really the best description for his film. The Corridor is the type of quiet little Sci Fi thriller that's best suited for killing time on a lazy weekend afternoon. In no way is that meant to be taken as a back handed compliment. The Corridor knows exactly what type of film it is and that's one of its most likeable aspects, it's smart and ambitious without being prententious or over-reaching.
The directorial debut of Canadian based filmmaker, Evan Kelly, and the second feature written by Josh MacDonald, The Corridor is a hodge podge collection of The Big Chill, Dream Catcher, and The Treasure of The Sierra Madre. The film follows a group of old friends reuniting for the first time in years at a remote cabin in the woods of Nova Scotia. As any genre fan knows, nothing good can come of camping in a cabin in the woods. But the stakes are immediately raised from scene one since one of the friends has a history of violent mental illness.
Although the initial set up may seem like a horrible idea, MacDonald does an excellent job of making the characters actively aware of their potentially stupid decision to go camping with someone who had once tried to murder them. The purpose behind this reunion is a symbolic one. The friends have reunited to hold an informal funeral to bury the ashes of the mother of a man recently released from the looney bin
Stephan Chambers gives an effective performance as Tyler Crawley, a man who suffered a complete psychotic break after his mother OD'ed on her meds, psyche meds. He attacked his friends, slashing one man's face, and thrusting a knife through another's hand, destroying his career as a teacher to deaf and mute students. Now that he's seemingly in control of his actions, Tyler has invited his friends to his mother's cabin to finally put her at rest and make amends for his involuntary homicidal rampage.
Tensions run high and Tyler's buddies are keenly keeping a close eye on their troubled friend. We know that they have been guilt tripped into this excursion and their struggles for any type of commradery is based only out of a sense of obligation. McDonald and Kelly do an excellent job of building a natural and authentic chemistry between their actors.
Things go south with Tyler begins seeing and hearing things again and gets even worse when he discovers a spectral corridor deep in the woods. While he first assumes it's only an apparition of his delusional mind, his friends soon confirm that it is indeed real.
What is the corridor, where did it come from, and why does it continue to grow? These are questions asked and smartly never answered. The Corridor works best when it plays things with a strong sense of mystery. But more importantly, how is it that the corridor is able to grant the men who enter it telepathic powers.
The corridor opens a portal allowing the group to read each others' minds and eventually enter their subconsciouses, taking on their personalities based on their ids.
There are some really great ideas at play here with an interesting twist. Ironically, Tyler's psych meds inhibit him from entering his friends' minds while everyone else is entering his and adapting to his violent delusions, driving them all mad.
Strong acting, natural dialogue, and a foreboding tone make The Corridor an engaging psychological sci fi horror trip. Apart from some unfinished CGI effects that I hope are fixed before release, the only real problem with the film is its pacing. The film really takes off when the entire group of friends enter the corridor and find themselves with extraordinary abilities. The film's most effective and unsettling moments come while McDonald and Kelly reveal the many powers the men continue to gain as they spend more time in the corridor. Unfortunately, the film possesses the same flaw as most of a similar ilk. The shit simply hits the fan too quickly. I actually wanted more time devoted to the exploration of the corridor before the men go completely mad and result to killing and maiming each other. There's plenty of surprising and shocking moments with decent practical gore effects, but it just happens too soon, although it doesn't detract too much from the film as a whole,
MacDonald and Kelly have crafted the type of solid if low fi character based horror film that would have been right at home with many of the top tier STV flicks of the mid 90's. It's a refreshing throwback to sci fi indies like Cube. It's the kind of film many of us grew up spending Saturday afternoons watching on Sci Fi Channel before they changed over to SyFy and devoted themselves strictly to the dopey creature features that Asylum has built an empire out of. Ultimately, it reminded me of the best episodes of The Outer Limits. As MacDonald alluded to, it's great fare to absorb with a hazy mind after a long night out.