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Animosity
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by Jay Seaver

"Keeps coming back with neat twists."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: There are plenty of moments in "Animosity" that will likely earn a groan the first time through, and maybe even a bit of anger, depending on how much certain frequent genre movie shortcomings stick in one's craw. Hang around, though; there are revelations that make it work on tap, and a reasonably entertaining horror story to boot.

After a brief bit involving a chainsaw to let viewers know that this is that type of movie even if it starts slow otherwise, we see Carrie Bonner (Tracy Wilet) and her husband Mike (Marcin Paluch) buying an isolated house in the middle of the woods. You can and almost should just stop there; it almost goes without saying that while Mike is carpooling in to work with his boss Dr. Carl Hampton (Tom Martin), something creepy will distract Carrie from her work scoring a horror movie. Like Tom (Stephan Goldbach), the closest thing they've got to a neighbor. Oh, there's also no cell service and things like the landline and internet haven't been hooked up yet, of course.

It sounds pretty standard-issue, and things only get worse when Mike patronizingly downplays Carrie's worries - even if you don't grumble about it being sexist because it's all but inevitable that her fears will be vindicated in bloody fashion, that inevitability is kind of insulting to the seasoned horror fan in its own way. fortunately, it's not too long before things start to get a little more interesting, and if the scenario that writer/director Brendan Steere comes up with isn't entirely original (during the Q&A, Steere freely volunteered the art-house classic he was strongly inspired by), its unique enough in this context and implemented with enough creativity that the movie can play out in a great many ways, with Steere being both smart and not particularly timid in which ones he chooses.

All of those potential directions are going to rely on Tracy Wilet, and she handles everything Steere and company throw at her, from a first act where she plays the young woman oblivious to what is about to happen with less false cheer than usual through a very nice take on how especially nerve-wracking amateur sleuthing must get when the mystery becomes personal. Perhaps her best work, though, comes when she passes the point of rage: For a lot of movies and roles in this genre, it's where things get visceral but pretty simple; she's got time and material that let's her do interesting things amid that fury.

The rest of the cast have simpler characters, although Marcin Paluch has more interesting material as the husband than one might initially think, and he does okay with it. How some of the rest of the cast come across may be mostly a matter of personal taste; I kind of liked seeing Stephan Goldbach and Tom Martin just go for it when it becomes clear just what sort of characters they're playing, although there's an argument for "too much" as well.

Steere and company do well with the basic horror-movie stuff, too; there's enough blood to make an impression without it being too much, and they aren't inclined to waste a jump moment. A turning point in the movie is memorably nasty, all the more so when the full implications of it set in. The downside is that one things start setting in, it's hard to miss just how precisely things have been set up to funnel events down that particular path.

That's hardly an issue unique to "Animosity", though, and it does enough with its characters besides just sending them through the motions to earn itself some praise.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=26296&reviewer=371
originally posted: 02/13/14 10:34:58
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2014 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

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USA
  04-May-2013

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Brendan Steere

Written by
  Brendan Steere

Cast
  Tracy Willet
  Marcin Paluch
  Tom Martin
  Stephan Goldbach



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