is an okay movie. It could have been terrific. From what I gather, Brad Anderson saw the Danvers State Mental Hospital and knew it would be the perfect setting for a horror movie. And he's right; this out-of-the-way, gothic, huge, decrepit building with various bits of bad history associated with it just crawls with atmosphere. To make it even scarier, Anderson posits that the building is loaded with asbestos, meaning that the dust all over everything is not just eerie, but dangerous.
So he sends a asbestos abatement crew (populated by well-acted, interesting characters) in there, under an extremely tight deadline (1 week for a job that should take at least three), has one of them find a series of tapes detailing 9 sessions by one patient with multiple personalities, and lets the story unfold.
Which it does. Slowly. With numerous red herrings. And, most unfotunately, no sense of urgency. We're told
that hazmat disposal is a stressful job, and that there's a tight deadline with an associated bonus, but none of the characters ever really seem to particularly aware of it. This situation, which should be setting everyone on edge, doesn't do that so well. The last act does ratchet the suspense up more, but it tosses some things that had taken up a good chunk of screen time to the side.
One thing about the ending I did like, though, was the ambiguity (BTW, I'm serious about the spoilers):
|It's not explicitly spelled out whether the killings are a result of some sort of demonic possession, or whether Gordon just snaps. The former is hinted at, but not made anything close to explicit, although the latter is more frightening, IMHO.|
One technical note: I think this is the first movie in (semi-)wide release shot using Sony's 24p high-resolution digital motion-picture cameras (The Anniversery Party
were both merely HDTV); I know Jason X
and Attack Of The Clones
won't be released for a while, while Spy Kids 2
won't start shooting for another month. Anyway, it looks fantastic, 2.35 widescreen and no hint of grain, and I only knew this because I stayed through the end credits. As unimpressed as I was with DLP, this "digital film" looks like the real deal.