FrightFest VOD film review: Curtain (The Gateway)
Ivan Radford | On 08, Mar 2016
Director: Jaron Henrie-McCrea
Cast: Danni Smith, Tim Lueke, Martin Monahan |
Watch Curtain online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Virgin Movies / TalkTalk / Eircom / Volta / Xbox / Sky Store / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Don’t you hate it when you buy a nice, new shower curtain and it gets sucked into an alternate dimension? That’s the basis of the latest horror movie released by FrightFest Presents, fittingly called Curtain.
The film wastes no time in unveiling its premise, as we see young charity worker Danni (Smith) move into her new apartment. After sitting around drinking beers and staring at boxes, she does what any normal person and hangs a shower curtain in the bathroom – only for it to disappear the following morning. The possible explanations are limited: either she dreamed about putting up a curtain, the creepy janitor broke in and stole it, or there’s a hidden doorway near the soap dish that transports all hanging material in the vicinity of the bathtub that into a mysterious space-time vortex. After all, transdimensional gateways are all the range in Hotpoint’s new catalogue.
It’s a credit to director Jaron Henrie-McCrea (who co-wrote the script with Carys Edwards) that the final answer is confirmed within minutes, as Danni does the sensible thing that any modern-day urbanite would: stick a phone in the bathroom and record the whole thing. That straightforward reaction is par for the course in what turns out to be a refreshingly matter-of-fact genre flick: we spend as much time sitting around talking about saving whales with Danni’s co-worker, Tim (Lueke), as we do puzzling over where the shower curtains go at night, but that low-key character development doesn’t detract from the scares, instead allowing tension to build by boosting the believability of the whole thing.
The no-nonsense approach extends to the visuals, which also rely on the physical rather than the digital: the curtains don’t just disappear in a sea of pixels; they emerge somewhere else, tattered and covered in weird goo, while the inevitable critters and apparitions that emerge from the ether are disturbingly tangible (and not afraid of splattering bed around the place). Torches become weapons for battering heads in as much as tools for wandering around in dark woods – the kind of resourcefulness that turns the movie’s low budget into a strength rather than a weakness.
Smith and Lueke are key to selling the strange goings-on, with their chemistry allowing for pathos as much as paranormal intrigue – and they’re well supported by Gregory Konow’s unsettling onlooker Willy and Martin Monahan’s horribly calm Pale Man, both of whom hold the answers to what’s happening in Danni’s watercloset when the lights go out. The twists that do come are served up efficiently and effectively, with a runtime of barely 70 minutes never letting you pause to question what’s on screen – you can’t give Curtain better praise than the fact that you never laugh at the idea of a lethal shower curtain. The result is a horror movie that, although slight, does what the best entries in the genre can: make the familiar seem creepily unfamiliar. Scary, short and stuffed with neat ideas, Curtain is an on-rails thriller that easily gets you hooked. You won’t set foot in Homebase for days afterwards. When was the last time you could say that about a film?
Curtain is one of the new wave of films released on VOD through Icon and FrightFest’s digital banner, FrightFest Presents. For more information on the other titles available from Monday 29th February and throughout March, click here – or keep up to speed with our FrightFest Presents Month.