The PR material provided with the film stated this was an adaptation of Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s “well- known and controversial gothic feminist horror story “. I see very little feminism in the film unless of course I strain to fabricate it. What I see is a woman named Jane (Alexandra Loreth) who is dangerously mentally unbalanced slowly descending into the sheer hell of severe mental illness. The horror here is not a melange of cinematic effects designed to frighten you. The horror is that of mental illness which degrades Jane into the point she is an animal crawling on the floor and peeling off the yellow wallpaper in her room like a person with obsessive compulsive disorder picking at a scab or cutting themselves.
The acting is stiff but skillfully to create the altered state of reality for Jane. Her physician husband John (Joe Mullins) is no sexist ranter but his aloofness is almost theatrical which is how Jane perceives him. In terms of traditional well acted characters it is Jeanne O’Connor as lady servant Jennie who is closest to the reality that Jane is experiencing. Clara Hart as the lead servant is stiff and totally insincere quite like a spy playing a deceptive role. I see either bad acting throughout or very clever casting and I’ll vote for the latter.
Do you have sympathy for Jane? Perhaps you do but watch the opening scene of the movie for an example of her vicious brutality which repeats itself with “the attack on the mice”. She is both a danger to herself and others which is a universally accepted phrase requiring commitment. Having represented incarcerated “mentally ill” clients I know the mantra well.
I see the film was financed in part by crowdfunding. The cinematography, costuming and sets are above crowdfunding. It really creates the impression of a big budget movie and what a shame it has been relegated to the festival and VOD market. While it is painfully slow it certainly measures a descent into madness superbly.
Loreth is at times childlike, dangerous and obsessive and manages all these different roles perfectly. Mullins as the frustrated husband is impeccably aloof.
Loreth and Kevin Pontuti wrote the film and it was directed by Pontuti.
You can catch the trailer for the film here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgws4d1_APY
The disturbing descent into madness has had a festival run and will be released on VOD on March 29th.
RKS Film Rating 88/100.
P.S. I guarantee a few minutes into the film you will shout “God no!” and there will be spine tingling shivers throughout not through special effects but clever writing and acting.