24 April 2011

Ally's Review: To Let

I had absolutely no expectations when Fin brought To Let to the table. When I learned that Fin was choosing a film from the same director as [Rec], I began to anticipate something a bit special. [Rec] is in the photo finish for my favourite horror film of the last decade. I think that it is absolutely spot-on in every way. This film was made before [Rec] and you can see some similar elements in this movie. The overall impression that I got from To Let was that this was done by a director who was just learning exactly how to create a great piece of horror. It’s a bit rough around the edges compared to REC. That's not to say that it isn't a good film in its own right.

Firstly, the director knows how to use an apartment block to add tension and creepiness. He takes this skill to another in [Rec], but we also see his brilliance here too. I also thought the story was excellent. I loved the premise of the insane woman, forcing people to stay in the apartment. She’s incredibly creepy and you want someone to smack her with shovel the whole film. The movie is very short, but it zips along well and there are few moments that don’t aid the story in some way.

The most flawed element of the movie is that the characters continually fail to dispatch their tormentor. You will find it impossible not to scream at them as they dawdle around, failing to seize their clear opportunity to escape. I suppose there is something very classic about this device, but somehow it misfires here – they kind of deserve to be recaptured or stopped, because they are so slow and weak (especially the husband: the softest man in any movie ever made).

There are some good set pieces on display, and the creepiness and frights are at a solid level. Ultimately though, my lasting impression from the movie was that it wasn’t quite there yet. Several of the jumps misfire when they could have worked superbly with better timing. This is the best example of what I meant about the director learning on the job. He hadn’t mastered the horror genre by this movie, he was still cutting his teeth. It was really good to see it because of that, so that you can see how he progressed with his skill. If I watched this movie without knowing anything about who directed it then I think I would have still enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn't have given it another moments thought. I think I feel more positive towards it because of how much I love [Rec].

Worth seeing for those who want to see flashes of brilliance from a director who would then put it all together later in his career. For anyone else? I’d probably still recommend it: it’s a solid film, although it won’t bowl anyone over.

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