A newlywed couple decides to spend their honeymoon in a secluded lakeside cabin. One night Bea sleepwalks her way into the woods. The next day Paul starts to notice that things seem a little off with his fresh bride’s behavior.
How well do you know your loved ones? Will your significant other really stay the person you fell in love with? Or will he/she become… another? These questions are fertile ground for paranoia to breed on in any relationship, and these seem the basis on which writer/director Leigh Janiak and writer Phil Graziadei based their screenplay on. Interesting starting point for sure. But with Janiak declaring that her first feature draws wide-ranged inspiration from works like Roman Polanski‘s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and Michael Haneke‘s ‘Amour’, as well as dabbling into David Cronenberg‘s world of body horror and showing a fascination with the various incarnations for different generations of ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’, then things are bound to get a little more intriguing… and disturbing altogether.
Janiak takes her time to have us get acquainted with Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway). We experience the intimacy of a young couple in love, how they discover each other’s little character trades and learn to function well together. And in the dark light of things to come, a drawn-out exposition like this seemed called for, because when things go wrong – as they eventually will – the events will hit us twice as hard. Janiak was very fortunate to have Leslie and Treadaway on board. The whole film gains a lot of strength thanks to their performances. They have good chemistry together and present us a couple we can care about. Additional characters are served up in the form of Will (Ben Huber) and Annie (Hanna Brown), injecting the film with a more unsettling vibe early on as well as providing ties with Bea’s metamorphosis later on.
Around the film’s midway point, after Bea had her sleepwalk in the woods, Janiak wisely focuses on telling the rest of the story from Paul’s point of view, with him trying to figure out what’s going on with his wife (and around the lake area in general), while Bea is the one keeping secrets. As of then, with Paul’s search for answers, things slowly become creepier and eventually very terrifying. And you may expect to be grossed-out at a certain point, with what all Paul will discover near the end. Things will get quite visceral. And much approved were the efforts of Janiak showing us the icky bits in a real, practical fashion instead of juicing things up with CGI. That would have been too easy and lessened the impact of said scene for sure.
With unveiling the mystery during the final scenes, Janiak and Graziadei shied away from being ambiguous. And it was the wisest thing to do, because the whole story is just a little too thin to get away with drawing the ambiguity card at the end. Still, Janiak and Graziadei had no intention of spelling things out, so not too many answers are given and some things are left open (not as much for interpretation, but more to wonder about). All-in-all the whole film strikes some very good notes and ultimately so does the ending. By all means an interesting debut, that shows promise for Janiak‘s next projects.
Trailer on YouTube.