Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hostile (2014) Fantasia 2015

Meredith, a middle aged woman adopts two teenage girls- all goes along well until weird things begin to happen...

To me any time when you have to highlight something about the filmmaker or something not on the screen to sell a film there is something wrong. The first paragraph of the HOSTILE page on the Fantasia website notes that the filmmaker was only 14 when he made this film. That's all well and good but to me mentioning it seems to be a blind for the short comings of the film.  Reading that before I saw the film I was forced to ponder what was wrong with the film that they had to point that out at the start?

I'm very torn about this film. Technically a well made and well acted film, it generates more than its fair share of fear and tension things. There are thrills and chills all through it. The film has a couple of very good bits that will get a rise out of you.

The problem is that the film's story and structure are a mess. Starting off with a roadside encounter between a woman and a girl seemingly covered in blood, film creates a great sense of place as the woman parked on the side of the road talks on her phone and has a brief smoke. She then encounters a staring girl outside her car ...things go side ways as director Nathan Ambrosioni manipulates the frame, we n longer see the girl outside the car so when she's not there in the next shot we're kind of cheated. It then doesn't quite work when the girl ends up in the backseat ready to strangle the woman.  How did she get there. Never mind after the act she fades away, the damage is done and the illogic of the plotting is in place. (It's also a sign of the occasional poor pacing since shots go on much too long to be truly scary)

From there the film cuts to Meredith on a TV show and the film careens through home movie footage, flashback footage,found footage and present time happenings. By throwing every type of POV at us the film ends up having to real point of view. Where are we and when are we? Some flashback or in the now footage scenes look like they are TV found footage.scenes, at other time other times we jump from differing POV's in manner that doesn't seem thought out. It made it feel jumbled to me. The film doesn't feel cohesive even as it's generating tension. I felt like I was watching pieces of a film not a whole one.

I'm going to refrain from pulling at the plot threads because I don't really want to dismantle this film completely.

This isn't a bad film, as I said it has it's moments, but it feels like itwas made by someone who doesn't fully understand story structure- or even dream logic. On some level I want to say this would have worked better if it moved faster...

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