This week’s theme, inspired by my recent viewing of Get Out, is the re-emergence and arguable takeover of indie-horror. Mainstream horror has almost exclusively become a re-make factory/cookie-cutter money machine that has traded in originality for mindless fanfare. Although usually monetarily successful, these contrived films become so predictable and old that creativity and character development fall to the wayside. Indie-horror, however has done the opposite, and consumers are going crazy for fresh-feeling scares. Focusing more on character development, psychological horror, unique storytelling, and original concepts, indie-horror has reimagined the horror genre and has become a breath of fresh air to a dying genre.
The first installment on my descent into the world of independent horror is Pet, starring Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings and Lost), Ksenia Solo, and Jennette McCurdy (yes, the blonde girl from Disney Channel’s iCarly has now entered the horror genre). Pet provides a fresh take on the traditional stalker/kidnapper narrative and offers a few well-placed twists. The cast, more specifically Dominic and Ksenia, play interesting and difficult roles that keep you guessing what and who you should believe.
Dominic Monaghan plays Seth, a hapless/socially awkward dog shelter employee who falls for Holly, a beautiful waitress. As she spurns his love, he becomes obsessed and events escalate.
This movie may not have been the perfect example of the true impact indie-horror has on the genre in the effect that it wasn’t that good as a complete film. Still, it introduces surprisingly new ideas and twists that do exemplify the subgenre. This film focuses mostly on the psychological element of Seth and Holly’s relationship, allowing both to question who is in control. It expertly blurs the traditional line between villain and victim and complicates gender expectations in horror.
I would say the largest problem with the film is that it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It borrows a lot of elements of other good movies and mashes it all into one, making it blocky and overly complicated. Does it want to be Gone Girl? Saw? Fight Club? I really don’t think the director or the screenwriter really knows. It has very strange components of all three and they don’t fit together very well as a whole. One twist, I’ll applaud. Two twists are risky. But this thing has so many twists that they completely lose their effect and seem like the screenwriters just invented the storyline as they went along.
The worst part of the film is the ending. It is the final twist that nobody asked for. After the film cuts to black, the rest is irrelevant. I won’t spoil it, because there really are a lot of twists in this thing, but after the narrative logically ends, the movie decides it’s a good idea to just keep going. It is a poor excuse to try and shock the audience one last time. It’s illogical, it’s stupid, and it completely delegitimizes the previous hour and half of plot. It tries to get too cocky with its own premise and it completely loses its footing along the way.
There are some really interesting concepts in this movie, and it plays with the expectations in a horror films regarding both normal horror tropes and typical gender roles in the genre. Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo have interesting chemistry in in not-so-typical situation and until the end, you never really are sure who is really in control. It is a subversive and interesting film, even though it gets bogged down in its own premise and tries to trick the audience a few too many times. The inclusion of so many twists makes a clever premise seem tacky. For an original and interesting new idea, this could really have been a great film, but it tried to be too many different things at once instead of focusing on its central theme of control and delusion.
Amy’s Recommendation: 7/10