Fantastic Fest 2011: THE CORRIDOR Cuddles You in a Blanket of Paranoia
What starts as a group of childhood friends looking to repair old wounds with a weekend in the woods turns into psychedelic race for sanity in director Evan Kelly and writer Josh MacDonald ultra impressive debut feature The Corridor. With a particularly talented group of actors, these young Canadian filmmakers have crafted a taut thriller that wraps the audience in a blanket of paranoia without falling victim to the clichés that plague so many cabin-in-the-woods horrors. Put together on a microscopic budget, The Corridor is another sign that the Canadian tide of indie success is in no hurry to ebb.
The film jumps off to a heady start when Stephen Chamber's Ty loses his marbles and attacks his pals, literally over his mom's dead body. Jump to a few years later and Ty has been let out of "the bin" and is looking to make amends. Some questions remain over the true cause of Ty's mom's death though the official story is that it was her suicide that caused Ty's break with reality. These questions hang heavy in the air as Ty's buddies Chris (David Flemming), Jim (Glen Matthews), Bobcat (Matthew Amyotte) and Everett (James Gilbert channeling Bradley Cooper) arrive at Ty's snowbound cabin looking for some sort of unlikely closure to this dark chapter in the fellas' lives. Things take a twist when Ty comes back from a late night walk convinced he's seen some sort of supernatural phenomenon. Has Ty lost it again, are the boys in danger, or is something even weirder going on up in the woods?
Having set this stage, it would be too easy for a lesser film to slip into the same horror clichés of the crazy dangerous dude picking off his friends one by one. But The Corridor is much smarter than that, weaving an intricate plot by staying firmly rooted with the stories of these characters. Each of the guys has his own distinct personality and how they react to the situations that arise as individuals creates a dynamic story that feels particularly authentic and keeps things interesting.
Past the solid character work, the film's defining quality is its smart handling of the premise. While questions of reality prevail like a bad drug trip, the commitment by Kelly and MacDonald to the defining basis of the plot stays strong, leaving the audience inherently content long after the credits roll. There is a bit of Donnie Darko here and a bit of Stephen King - but more than anything there is a solid character based thriller that leaves you feeling pretty damn satisfied.