Brendan Steere is likely best known to most people as the man who brought us the sublimely silly grindhouse masterpiece that is The VelociPastor, but back in 2013 he gave us something altogether darker, nastier and more depressing. Welcome to the world of Animosity.
Mike Bonner (Marcin Paluch) and his wife Carrie (Tracy Willet) buy a dream home in the woods, and for a little while all seems well. The only fly in the ointment seems to be their aggressive and trigger-happy neighbour Tom (Stephan Goldbach). Things begin to escalate and soon Carrie finds herself tormented by noises in the attic, intruders in the kitchen and her husband acting increasingly strangely even as she grows more and more fearful of what’s happening around her. Soon the bodies start to mount, the blood starts to flow and the strange truth of this house in the woods is revealed.
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There are a lot of things this movie does… badly. There’s no getting around it. It’s a low budget film and it shows. There are times when you will struggle to hear what the actors are saying, the mic apparently tucked in someone’s armpit or down the back of a shoe for some scenes. Some scenes are not just dark, but pitch black, a common issue with low budget films (but at least he didn’t use a day-to-night-filter).
There are times when the film struggled to hold my attention, not helped by the bad sound and the not-great acting, and there are moments where the plot really doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. There’s a decent film beneath the problems, with an ambitious and truly dark story to tell, but it would have benefited from another pass from an editor and a much larger budget.
The biggest sin this film commits, however, is in being nearly two hours long. VelociPastor, in contrast, clocks in at a spry 1 hour and 15 minute runtime, a full half an hour shorter than Animosity. Too many parts of this film drag, too many scenes go on to the point where a viewer will be left wondering why nobody has noticed the woman very loudly listening to videos on a computer in the supposedly empty house, or why this particular dinner table conversation is dragging out this long.
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But goddamn it, it TRIES. Yes, it’s flawed, but it tries, dammit, and there are times it truly succeeds. It joins the relatively short list of movies to make me actually say “What the FUCK?” out loud. The story, in fact, bears more than a passing resemblance to both the really rather good Elizabeth Harvest and Stephen King’s seminal horror Pet Semetary.
With one more movie announced (They Hunger) and a sequel to VelociPastor rumoured, now is a great time to check out Mr Steere’s first full length film. It’s not half bad.
Animosity is out on Digital in the US from 20th July.