Monday, December 12, 2022

Reid Ramsey on OLD FLAME (2022) Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2022


Old Flame

Directed by Christopher Denham 

It’s difficult to discuss Old Flame without spoiling a bit, so beware some of it may be spoiled ahead. 

Christopher Denham’s Old Flame takes place the weekend of a college reunion. Wildly-successful Calvin (Andy Gershenzon) is helping to organize the reunion as a part of the alumni association. While setting up decorations prior to the first night’s events, his old college sweetheart, Rachel (Rebecca Robles), shows up and the two reconnect after many years. From there, the film strictly adheres to a three-act, three-conversation in which Denham slowly unravels what is at stake in this meet-up. 

As the movie develops and the two rekindle their “old flame,” it becomes increasingly clear that Rachel believes Calvin raped her as the last act of their relationship. From there, Denham lets the two play out their versions of the truth — Calvin’s constantly shifting and warping — as his romantic interest in Rachel turns to fear. This section is the best and most unsettling in the movie, as it sits uncomfortably and completely within the unknown. As often happens with films of this nature, it eventually becomes much too specific and neat to carry the weight it initially had. 

The attempt at this type of chamberpiece is admirable, though, and while it’s imperfect — Denham’s writing and the performances can’t always carry the movie despite being asked to — it is, overall, an effective, interesting, and uncomfortable watch.

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