This is a little straight-to-video foreign flick that caught my eye a while back. I think it's an underrated little movie, so I figured I would give it a little write up in my underrated movie reviews. heh
Before the title credits roll, we get a disturbing opening -- a young girl, eight-ish, is in a small, enclosed space. She awakens to her predicament and begins crying for her mother and father. Soon concrete begins pouring in at her feet. The level rises slowly as she screams, until just her face is showing -- then the screen goes black.
We're then introduced to Sam Walzcak, played by Mischa Barton. She's the stereotyped "first in our family" to graduate from college and she's getting a birthday party. We're informed that the Walzcak's "blow sh*t up" which is to say, they are in the demolition business. And as a birthday present, Sam is being given the opportunity to engineer a demolition on her own. As a bonus, Sam is also given two tickets to a tour of the architectural wonders of Europe to share with the professor she's been sleeping with while in college.
Off she goes to the building, out in the middle of some nowhere marsh-land town called Grand Ridge. The building was built by famed architect Malestrazza who has a reputation for putting up indestructible buildings that remain standing after all manner of natural disasters.
It's an odd looking structure, I'm sure created by CGI, but they did their job making it sort of creepy looking. The interior is dark and stark. The entry foyer has columns with an odd silvery-gold detail on the lower third. Plus the lights go out every six minutes in the hallways -- you know that's going to cause problems at some point. Basically, the building is another character in the movie, and a well done one at that.
Sam meets two of the building four occupants right away. The caretaker -- Mary, played by Deborah Kara Unger and her son Jimmy, played by Cameron Bright. Both Unger and Bright have their creepiness dialed up to eleven for the movie, and I doubt the casting could have been any better.
As Sam begins her work, measuring the building for demolition, she begins to find that things are not quite right there. The interior measurements don't match the plans. Plus Sam is hearing things in the walls and having scary dreams.
Not only that, the building itself has a sordid history -- it's home to the infamous "Walled in murders" some 15 years before. It turns out that during construction, 16 people were murdered and sealed up in the walls of the building, including Malestrazza himself. And Jimmie's father as well.
Also causing problems is the fact that 25 year old Sam is mildly flirtatious with 15 year old Jimmy in the way older girls often are with younger boys they find non-threatening. Jimmy plays Sam adroitly, alternating scary anecdotes and cruel pranks with kindly help and advices. His statement at one point "I tell stories, I don't lie" should have been a warning to Sam, who doesn't see Jimmie for what he may be. But it is obvious he is infatuated with her . . . perhaps too much so.
When Sam's boyfriend, the professor, shows up, things go quickly downhill. On the verge of abandoning her job because of all the bizarre and frightening occurrences, Sam is coerced into staying by Jimmie who gives her Malestrazza's notebook. It contains the actual plans to the building which show a hidden interior and his thoughts on the primitive belief that buildings can be strengthened by embedding the spiritual energy of the living within them.
Desperate to find that hidden interior, Sam becomes trapped in the building. She awakens bloodied, nude and with a sprained ankle. And there's someone else in the nearly pitch black octagonal room with her. Who is he? And does he mean to harm her?
Sam's trapped, her boyfriend is dead and the demolition crew is coming. I won't spoil it for you, but the movie plays out pretty well from there on out. Several things caught me by surprise, which I like. And the ending didn't seem contrived at all. Promoted as a horror flick, it's really a psychological thriller and a moody, dark one at that.
Barton does a good job with the role. She manages the varying emotions quite believably. Made in 2007, Mischa, whose body weight has wildly fluctuated through the years, was beginning to fill out a bit. So she's delightfully muffin-topping her jeans in this, which I like. They also went light on the make-up. Mischa's actually quite pretty and I think it was a good look for her. Plus I noticed a slight y-shaped scar under her left eye that I've never noticed before. Real? If so, it was a nice touch to leave it in.
No nudity, some pg-13 sex, and the blood isn't overwhelming. As I said -- I think it is an underrated movie and worth watching if you get the chance. Don't know if you should spend money to see it, but definitely, if it comes around on cable again, give it a look -- recommended.
Did you find this review helpful? Check out my other reviews for my thoughts on the flicks and the occasional gallery of hotness that accompanies them:
And speaking of occasional galleries of hotness, here's some sexy images of Mischa Barton to finish things off nicely: