Sunday, June 19, 2016

Estranged (2015)








DIRECTOR:
 Adam Levins

WRITERS:


Simon Fantauzzo
William Borthwick

CAST:

Amy Manson
Craig Conway
James Cosmo
James Lance
Nora-Jane Noone
Simon Quarterman
Eileen Nicholas

PLOT:

January and her boyfriend Callum have been enjoying years of travelling abroad when a scooter accident ends in them having to return back to the UK. January who is now suffering from memory loss is also bound to a wheelchair and is trying to settle back in with her family that she has no memory of anymore. As she tries to settle into life back in the UK she also tries to understand why she left in the first place and begins growing suspicious of her new family.







When I finished watching Estranged, I was glad to be done with the film. It felt like a marathon. It took me two nights and three attempts to actually finish the film. I will put this down to a mixture of me being tired and the film being rather slow in terms of building tension. A day after watching it and thinking more about the film, I think I may have judged it too quickly. I even decided to change the score for the film from an average five to a positive six as the more I thought about it, the more I realised what a nasty little film Estranged turned out to be. It has its issues but it really does nudge itself across the line in the end.

Estranged is a slow burn horror film. The film takes quite a lot of time to build up to its bloody conclusion. It also takes its time in revealing its nasty little twist. While I'm a fan of a good slow burn horror, I found that Estranged was a trial to get through, as I mentioned above. The movie took a several goes to finally finish it. I will, however, say in defence of Estranged that over the course of it's running time, the film does dish out a few scenes that will likely disturb some audience members who aren't big on violence against women.

The scenes that involve the more disturbing and taboo content are where Estranged packs the biggest gut punches. This movie never really goes into great detail in those scenes and it's a case of less is more in this movie but what the main character goes through is pretty disturbing. We are hit with scenes of our main character being hit and beaten which are a little hard to watch and even being raped by what we believe to be her father. It's these scenes that hit the hardest and will likely disturb people.

The twist in Estranged is a pretty nasty one. I got half the twist pretty early on and guessed certain elements of the twist but didn't see all of it coming when it's finally revealed. I found the film's twist to be pretty dark and clever. I think due to the film revealing certain elements early on, part of the reveal is lessened to some extent. Reading a few reviews on the film. I see that the twist confused quite a few people. So in that sense, I think the twist will either work and floor people due to the twisted nature of it or you will pick up on it pretty early on.

While this film isn't overly bloody or extremely violent in the beginning. The film does ramp up the violence towards the end of the film. The vast majority of this film is less is more but once our heroine decides to take matters into their own hands and seek her revenge, we get a decent helping of bloodshed. The film is certainly not gory but our main protagonist does some decent damage with a shotgun. It's the final two kills that had me cheering her on and wanting to see her dish out her own brand of justice and violence.

Now in terms of suspense, tension, and scares, Estranged was void of all three. It has the disturbing scenes nailed down but none of the scenes are really that suspenseful or frightening. It also doesn't try to dish out major jump scares which can be seen as a positive or negative depending on where you stand on how this movie flows in the beginning. Where I found the film slow, a little suspense or tension would have done wonders and probably scored the film a higher score in the end.

The acting was one of the most solid aspects of Estranged. Amy Manson gets put through the wringer in this film and suffers a lot at the hands of her family and she does a solid job of portraying someone who is being tortured and abused. I think the standout is the villain played by James Cosmo. He's evil and repulsive and you really do hate him here. He does his role well. James Lance also has a pretty twisted role as January's perverted and incestuous brother. His role is also one that comes across as disturbing but he delivers when playing a sleaze.

Lastly, in terms of cinematography and the way this film looks, this is low budget. The film doesn't deliver any amazing shots or the cinematography but I put this down to the budget. This film almost looks like it was done on digital video. For a film like 28 Days Later, this gave the film a sense of realism. In a movie that is set mostly within an old mansion in the backwoods of England, it just makes things a bit hard to see when the film gets into the darker scenes.







DEATH TOLL:
 6

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A bloodless scooter accident.
- A woman is raped by her "stepfather".
- A woman is beaten.
- A pregnant woman is hit in the stomach with a shotgun.
- Someone is stabbed in the chest.
- A skull is bashed in.
- Someone has their head blown off with a shotgun.
- Someone is shot in the stomach and chin with a shotgun.







Estranged is a nasty little indie film. While the build-up is slow and the film lacks any real scares or suspense. The movie does deliver a few twisted moments that should disturb viewers. The acting is also excellent in this movie. A solid lead in Amy Mason and creepy villain make you care and hate the characters. Anyone looking for a low budget, indie shocker with a nice twist that gives you less is more will be happy with Estranged. Go in knowing nothing.


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