Old ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

i imagine people hoping for Unbreakable or Signs or The Village era shyamalan will be disappointed that this is much closer to a strange hybrid between the equally goofy and chilling mood of unreality amidst social breakdown in The Happening and the familial breakdown/estrangement/tragedy as conceptual genre exercise in The Visit. but if that appeals to you (as it did to me) i think there's a lot to love here. namely the formal presentation of the premise itself; beautiful 35mm imagery of the elemental serving as this "natural", neutral force of power vs. a never-ending series of intentionally orchestrated, perversely emotional body horror setpieces trapped inside that imagery. where mortality and decades of life experience is collapsed into a not just a cleverly accelerated logistical timeframe but sometimes a single roaming, slow-pan tracking shot. there's a visceral impact to its genre shocks (that reveal of the belly nearly knocked me out of my seat) and an emotional clarity to the human faces reacting to the incomprehensibility of them in all matter of unbearably fragmented close-ups.

but of course this wouldn't be shyamalan unless these horrors weren't also a (literal) test of what people are capable of overcoming under exceptional circumstances; how much we can physically/emotionally endure in microcosm so that the broader picture is one still of catharsis, or at the very least acceptance. and there are some really beautiful moments between characters here who over the course of the film change not just forms but minds, all the while still desperately reaching and feeling for each other based on their history together. on first watch im a bit fascinated with choice of finale (kind of like i was with Glass, but eventually came around to appreciating) which i think feels strangely clean and easy on immediate viewing but in thinking it through is still quite harrowing. anyone who's studied the basics of research ethics might find it an obvious, simplistic turn but personally i found the choice of intimate POV with the characters trying to make sense of it on the ground level before suddenly widening the distance like those experiences meant nothing now that they're over incredibly scary. "stop wishing away this moment."

full discussion on my podcast SLEAZOIDS here.

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