Film reviews

The Dwelling / Tilt / State Like Sleep – Horror & Thriller Round-Up

The Dwelling

Jeff Maher (Bite, Antisocial 2) and Uncork’d Entertainment bring us an intriguing little slice of haunted-furniture shenanigans in the aptly titled Bed of the Dead. Wait, no, I mean The Dwelling. Yes. The Dwelling. This film appears to have been initially released back in 2016 as the former, and has now been renamed and re-released both on VOD and DVD under this shiny, new and slightly puzzling title.

This is a straight-forward little horror movie. There is a bed. It is made of wood from a tree where people were lynched and murdered and someone decides that it would be EVER SO CLEVER to cut it down and make a bed out of it. This rates right alongside building your house on an ancient Indian burial ground or attempting to resurrect your dead pets as things you really, really don’t want to do.

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Anyway, the bed ends up in room 18 of a club and our four characters who had been planning a night of girlfriend-swapping fun swiftly discover that once you’re on the bed, you don’t get off. Or get off it. Because if you do, bad, bad things will happen that involve lots of blood, gore and snapped limbs. It’s sort of like playing “the floor is lava” except here it’s more “the floor is angry ghosts who will dismember you”.

Toss in a Frequency-esque little twist and what you have is a genuinely surprisingly and entertaining little film. The cinematography is well done, the characters are (mostly) sympathetic and while the acting is slightly ropy in a couple of places, this is a really well told story and a genuine pleasure to watch. Pick it up, you won’t be disappointed. – Shaun Rodger

The Dwelling is out now on DVD and digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.


Tilt

Tilt is not a movie for everyone, in fact it’s likely to offend plenty of people within the opening minutes as much of the plot takes place in the shadow of Donald Trump’s election campaign, highlighted both in conversation and through shots of news reports. While all this is going on the story follows the life of Joe and his pregnant wife Joanne. Joanne is a nurse, working all hours to keep the house afloat while Joe is an unemployed documentary film-maker working on his latest project, a study of the “lie” of the American Dream. As the film progresses, both Joe’s grip on reality and his relationship with his wife become increasingly tenuous and disjointed as he spends his nights prowling the streets of LA.

Those looking for an out and out horror movie will be disappointed by what’s on display here, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Much of the violence is hinted at, or cut away from, a la the infamous ear scene from Reservoir Dogs, but despite not explicitly showing a lot, the impact is felt all the same.

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Joseph Cross as Joe (who for some reason keeps reminding me of Billy Boyd) is impressively scary when he needs to be, despite not actually DOING anything particularly scary, and that’s a rare talent. Some of the storytelling is… heavy handed, to say the least. Joe standing in the foreground as the camera focuses on a neon sign saying “NUT” behind him is far from subtle.

This is a film that honestly leaves me unsure what to make of it. On the one hand the unravelling of Joe’s mental state is sometimes difficult to identify with as it seems to have no specific cause, but at the same time it can’t be denied that this is a movie with some serious emotional impact. The final scene, for example, left me utterly breathless as it faded to black so there’s no denying that it drew me in and made me invested. Is it one that can be wholeheartedly recommended? Nnnnnoooooo…. but at the same time, if you’re in the mood for something slow and sombre and occasionally a bit pretentious, there’s a whole lot to like here and its 95 minute runtime will disappear FAR faster than you expect. – Shaun Rodger

Tilt is out now on digital download from The Movie Partnership.


State Like Sleep

State Like Sleep is a psychological thriller from writer/director Meredith Danluck. American fashion photographer Katherine Grand (Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice) is slowly rebuilding her life after her actor husband Stefan Delvoe (Michael Huisman, The Age Of Adaline) is found dead in their Brussels apartment from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot. Twelve months later with her mother hospitalised after a series of strokes, the property is due to be sold and Katherine returns to empty it. But revisiting her old life rekindles unsolved mysteries, and soon Katherine is drawn into a seedy underground club scene where she meets her husband’s secret friend Emile (Luke Evans, Midway) as well as her own enigmatic hotel-neighbour Edward (Michael Shannon, Midnight Special).

Despite some solid casting, the main problem is that the emotionally-anaesthetised characters and their sprawling story aren’t particularly interesting, yet neither are they presented in a particularly interesting way. And since Katherine knows at the time of his death that Stefan had issues with drugs and women, there’s no revelation awaiting her return. Everything she finds out about Stefan’s life comes more as an explanation rather than a shock.

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The film’s 100 languorous minutes feel far more ordinary than a film with this cast ever should. Scenes taking place in the fetish club aren’t as provocative as they’re perhaps intended to be, and the sequences in which Katherine is quietly wide-eyed on a variety of recreational drugs feel worryingly similar to those where she’s not.

And so what could easily have been a solid yet unambitious thriller turns out to not even make it to that mark. Originally filmed in 2016, State Like Sleep finally saw its US release back in January 2019, with an international straight-to-domestic follow up almost a year later. It’s not difficult to see why there’s been little enthusiasm to get this out there.

At one point, Katherine propositions Edward into casual sex with the disclaimer “It doesn’t have to mean anything, it can just be tonight”, seemingly unaware that this should really be the tagline for the film itself… – Ian Paterson

State Like Sleep is out now on digital download.


Animal Among Us

A killer Bigfoot movie?

Well that could be… fun, right?

Wrong.

Bad acting, bad script, bad character motivations.

Not good, not so bad it’s good, just plain old bad.

Hard pass. – Shaun Rodger

Animal Among Us is out now on digital and DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

 

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