by Shannonn Kelly
October 26, 2011, 11:43PM, EST
With Halloween just around the corner, I was in the mood to see a Horror / Thriller film tonight. Enter “The Corridor” (if you dare)…
“The Corridor”, an all Canadian low budget horror film directed by Evan Kelly (no relation), written by actor/writer Josh MacDonald starts out as a typical “cabin in the woods” story of long time buddies helping one of their group, Tyler Crawley (played by Stephen Chambers) get back into the fold after suffering through the trauma of a family death, of which the chain of events are unclear to him, his buddies and to the audience.
The once close-knit friends all want to build back the bond that’s been severed by misunderstandings and people moving on with their lives. So they decide to spend a weekend together to reconnect.
Evan Kelly directs this film in what looks like a pretty cold winter in Halifax, Nova Scotia. DOP Chris Ball makes sure the snowy exteriors really serve well to give you a sense of detachment that gawd forbid should anything go wrong, this would be the worst place for it to happen.
Inside the cramped cabin, we slowly learn of everyone’s emotional baggage. When things get a little emotionally raw, Tyler decides to take a breather from his buddies and goes into the woods on his own. Already suffering from auditory and visual perception impairments due to psychotropic medication and a short stint in the psyche ward, he encounters a paranormal/supernatural light force that initially frightens him, but then fills him with a sense of unexplained (inner) strength and fortitude. Tyler has entered – - “The Corridor“…
Aware his buddies are not quite sure how much he has mended from his trauma, Tyler hesitates in letting them know about his encounter; but when they all go put in the woods together, they all experience a heightened sense of power and euphoria.
Back at the cabin, the buddies reminisce and as the booze flows, things get a little out of hand. “The Corridor” is having an effect on them, so as each buddy’s fear manifests, paranoia and irrational rage takes over, ultimately turning into bloody vengeance.
Enter the 3rd Act: This is where the film falls apart. Not totally, but enough that you’re pissed you paid to see the movie when you should’ve waited to see it on NetFlix with 60 other movies for $8 bucks a month. Some of my complaints:
The plot lacked coherence. I felt I was watching”The Abyss” and a figurative “Lost in Translation” at the same time.
While some of the SFX make-up used for the friend-on-friend violence was well executed (for a low budget film) and some of the violence was smartly left to your imagination (because it was low budget?), the build-up was weak. And while you like some of the characters, when the mayhem starts you can’t help but laugh. Is this intentional..? (I personally didn’t get the feeling that it was during the Q&A remarks from writer McDonald)
The tone of the film completely changed to the extent that two of the actors seemed like they walked into “The Corridor” from another film. James Gilbert for instance who plays Everett Manette, stuck out like a sore thumb. Not because he can’t act (he can), but he seemed to come into the film from another horror story being shot in the next town.
What bothered me about this tone change and 3rd act breakdown is that during the Q&A, writer MacDonald couldn’t concisely explain the plot. Saying, “We leave it up to your imagination.” Believe me, that’s code for “I don’t know what’s going on either”.
I strongly suggest to McDonald, that even though the Horror genre is a loose genre and some things can be suspended in belief, next time get a story editor that can help you tighten things up and keep things solid in the 3rd act. Don’t just throw your hands up as a writer and think the director or editor will make sense of things for you.
There’s a point early on where the Visual effects for the “paranormal/supernatural light force” work. In the latter part of the film it becomes cheese and mars the film’s ending.
“The Corridor” was good for two-thirds of the film (good, not great), which is not bad by Hollywood standards; the 3rd act always being the killer for any film.
I’m going to give more of the credit to the director Evan Kelly for that achievement. This was his first horror genre film and I believe his work could certainly stand beside some of the films I saw at TIFF Midnight Madness last month with bigger stars and more money.
As horror / thriller films go, this is certainly better then let’s say, the abominable ‘Vanishing on 7th Street‘, the post-apocalyptic film by Brad Anderson made in the same year. It played at TIFF Midnight Madness in September and I was SO bored and extremely pissed that my time was wasted, screening a film only because it had “stars” in it.
That film was *painful* to watch. The pain was inflicted upon us by the horribly miscast Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo.
But when we focus on the cast in “The Corridor“, there is one stand out performance: Stephen Chambers.
His angular, melancholy face, his dispirited body language and his sad, confused soul made me buy into this film immediately. You kind of just wanted to give him a hug and tell him everything’s gonna be okay. Chambers showed he has range of say, Giovanni Ribisi or a Matthew Lillard when they’re given good parts.
“Vanishing on 7th Street” got distribution last week, so when this film gets distribution (and it will), it will get it because of the first two-thirds of the film holds fairly firm to the horror/thriller genre and because Stephen Chambers will get you safely past the end of The Corridor…
The Corridor stars:
Matthew Amyotte, as Robert ‘Bobcat’ Comeau
Nigel Bennett as Lee Shephard
Stephen Chambers, as Tyler Crawley
Mary-Colin Chisholm, as Pauline Crawley (Tyler’s Mom)
David Patrick Flemming, as Chris Comeau (as David Flemming)
James Gilbert as Everett Manette
Glen Matthews, as Jim ‘Huggs’ Huggan