- Leigh Whannell
- Run Time
- 2 hours and 4 minutes
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”
The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.”
Leigh Whannell’s is truly a creepy film that will hold you in suspense from the very first scene. In a modern home atop a high cliff above the restless ocean a woman in bed next to her husband slowly slips out of bed and tiptoes away. She dresses and checks the home security system, turning off its many surveillance cameras. As she frees her dog from its security collar the alarm goes off. She rushes outside, running down the wooded hill till she reaches the road. Soon a car approaches, stops, and she gets in. The woman driver is shocked when a man’s hand smashes the passenger-side window. The escapee yells, and the car pulls away, leaving the man behind. However, in her haste to get into the car the woman has dropped a drug bottle. The attacker finds it lying in the road.
We learn that the escaping woman is Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) who has suffered a long period of abuse at the hands of her inventor/genius husband Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). She had drugged him with Diazepam the night of her rescue by her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and finds refuge in the home of her childhood friend James Lanier (Aldis Hodge), a police officer and single parent of high-school-senior Sydney (Storm Reid). The patient James has been trying to coax her to step outside his home because she is immobilized by her paranoia and agoraphobia. He encourages and praises her when she is able to step through the front door and step outside for a moment.
Cecilia is upset when Emily visits her because she is deathly afraid that Adrian is tracking her sister so he can find her. Emily finally is able to sweep aside Cecelia’s recriminations to inform her that Adrian has committed suicide. Though glad to hear the news, Cecilia does not feel totally relieved. She is quite shocked when she meets with Adrian’s brother Tom Griffin (Michael Dorman), who is the executor of the estate, that she was made the beneficiary of his millions. She announces to James and Sydney that she has opened an account in the girl’s name dedicated for her education and that she will be adding $10 K as money from the estate comes in.
Still, Cecilia is not at ease, the feeling that she is being watched persisting. The camera, slowly panning around the bedroom she shares with Sydney, creating the same feeling in us, the soundtrack music, as well as periods of total silence, reinforcing this. The night an unseen hand pulls the comforter and sheets off Cecilia and Sydney confirm what we know from the film’s title, and the hand print that appears out of nowhere on the glass panel of Cecilia’s is truly a creepy touch. Of course, the others are confused by what they think is Cecilia’s paranoia, tension between them all rising to a breaking point. There are pictures of Adrian in his coffin, so clearly the woman must be undergoing a breakdown.
There is one shocking event and a series of bloody encounters at the mental facility to which Cecilia has been confined, and then at last Cecilia’s visit to her former house and her husband’s basement lab where she makes the discovery that will place her for the first time in control of events. The climax will leave many cheering and, hopefully, people of faith questioning the morality of the resolution. Justice might at last have been attained, but what about the morality of its means?
Some have seen this film centering on an abused woman as a tribute to or parable of the long period in which abused women were helpless, their accusations against their abusers either ignored or regarded as made by a woman trying to get back at a lover. The specter of Harvey Weinstein lurks in the background of this horror tale. Like Adrian the movie mogul was able to abuse women over a great period of time with impunity because our patriarchal culture, extending back to Old Testament times, permitted him to do so. I have quoted the story of the unnamed Levite from chapter 19 of the book of Judges to show how women were regarded as property, the purpose of which was to serve men and their welfare. There is an earlier one in Genesis wherein Lot, Abraham’s nephew, makes a similar offer to save his male guests when the lustful men of Sodom pound on his door during the night. It has taken an enormous amount of crying out by violated women for many decades to bring society to look at those infamous Biblical passages and see them for the horror stories that they are.
There are horror films, and there are horror films. Leigh Whannell’s is one that you will be thinking about long after the end credits roll. She should be commended for her creativity in reshaping the old H.G. Wells sci-fi tale and making it relevant for our time.
This review will be in the March issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.