The wake up call hits when its a week ago that I went to go see the world premiere of this horror film called Anguish. This one had a trailer that creeped me out so much I pretty much didn’t finish watching it and stood waiting for the movie to start so early that I had time to get all nervous about how scary it might actually be. I’m sure amping up my expectations on something I essentially knew nothing about wasn’t a great idea but you know what, so far in the two years of Fantasia, I’ve made some pretty good choices especially in smaller films so I’m pretty excited. In an afterthought, my suggestion is to NOT watch the trailer 😉 However, mine will be a spoiler-free review and I’ll keep it relatively short to not go into too many details so here we go!
Director/Writer: Sonny Mallhi
Cast: Ryan Simpkins, Annika Marks, Karina Logue, Amberley Gridley
Sixteen-year-old Tess (an astoundingly powerful Ryan Simpkins) may be young in age, but she’s already had several lifetimes worth of psychological distress, beginning randomly when she was found banging her head into a wall at the age of five. Through the years, her mother has tried everything, every specialist, every alternative treatment, to bring her into balance. The closest thing to a proper diagnosis that doctors have been able to assign to her mental condition is an identity disorder, and in a sense, that’s not incorrect. Tess’s identity is horrifically disordered — because it’s being encroached upon by spirits of the dead. – Fantasia
Before we start the review, what you should know is that Anguish is inspired by true events of people suffering with unexplained psychological disorders (or that’s the idea of it if I remember correctly). They clarify it more in the beginning of the movie. Regardless, that’s a good point to remember as you watch it.
Anguish is the directorial debut for Sonny Mallhi who is the producer and/or writer of a good few films that we all know ranging from The Lake House to The Roommate to the much more well received The Strangers. Last year, I almost went to see another movie he produced at Fantasia called At the Devil’s Door. I’ll probably give that a watch for the Halloween marathon later this year. He definitely has a knack for horror and in Anguish, he succeeds at writing and directing a very atmospheric spirit possession movie. However, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I blame part of my lack of fright because the trailer reveals a lot of the scares to expect in the first act. They are still quite creepy and will give you that chill down your spine regardless. For those who go in with less knowledge, this one will give you plenty of scares. The scares build from utilizing his background sounds and knowing when to isolate sounds in that environment and using an ambient soundtrack that creates the mood the audience needs to be in. The story premise itself is also pretty good. It does sometimes feel a little predictable with reminisces of Insidious (for one example).
The setting that they choose for Anguish is also very good with lots of nature and contrasts of the city scene. It gives space for the change in scene and mood that’s well needed for the story. Some shots are done so well that they captured in my memory quite a bit. However, Anguish focuses very much on women because we look at two parallels in mother-daughter relationship and the ties they have. It pulls in a good level of drama and struggle and successfully allowing us time in the well-paced story to bond with sixteen year old Tess. While we’re talking about Tess, she is such a central character and Ryan Simpkins does a great job of capturing Tess and making us wonder about her mental disorder and how much it has to do with this being haunted business.
Anguish is a little movie that deserves a lot of attention. While it may suffer mildly from predictability, it does a great job at building the perfect creepy and chilling atmosphere blending it with a suiting sounds that will make you jump up from your seat with some of the scares. You will feel anguished and dread what will happen one scene after another. Not quite as much about jump scares as it is about making this a psychological journey in the horrific world that Tess gets dragged into. There’s something pretty awesome about Anguish and its worth a watch! 🙂
Have you heard of Anguish? Are you a fan of some of the movies that Sonny Mallhi has produced and/or wrote?