Monday, June 6, 2016

Film Review: Anguish (2015)

Anguish (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the type of film I'd only recommend if you're suffering from insomnia."

Tess (Ryan Simpkins), a teenager with some unidentified mental issues, moves into a new house with her mother Jessica. Tess eventually begins to experience bizarre hallucinations...

Anguish is a generic, pseudo-arthouse horror film. The story starts off with Lucy, another moody teenager, arguing with her mother about a camping trip. Lucy doesn't get it her way, so she heedlessly exits the car and gets hit another oncoming car – she dies. Fast forward a bit, Tess arrives in town with her mother. You might expect some spooky stuff to happen, right? Wrong. Instead, in attempt to build 'character,' you get to watch Tess brood over life and skateboard along with some hip indie music. Okay, eventually she begins to hallucinate and she attributes said hallucinations to Lucy's lingering spirit. It all leads to a very weak climax and ending. I was surprised it ended on such a weak note. It really fails to leave an impression.


Anguish is a boring film. Let's start with the characters. Anguish features a set of obnoxiously moody teenagers. I mean, the first exchange in the film starts a little something like this: "Okay, mom, I know I'm like 14 years old, but don't call me Lucy, betch. My name is Lucinda. It's more adult." You spend most of your time with Tess and, unfortunately, she has as much personality as a cardboard cutout. You might as well change the title of the movie to Moody Teenagers: The Movie. Essentially, despite the film spending so much time on the characters, the characters are nonexistent! Which leads to my next point: the film has a dreadfully slow pace and way too many unnecessary scenes. No one wants to watch Tess skateboarding around town for five minutes or watch shots of the scenery for a minute between every scene. It's well-shot, sure, but no one wants that!

In terms of horror, Anguish is a lightweight. There were a few decent visuals here and there, like the handprints on the window, which reminded me of the intro to Tales of Terror From Tokyo (you'll see more horror in that five minute clip than this entire movie). It doesn't have enough horror, though. In fact, you can watch the trailer and you'd probably see all of the decent scenes in this 90 minute feature. Back to the pacing for a second: silence and slow walking does not equal suspense. A dead silent scene without proper direction is just that - dead silent. Did I complain about the actual plot enough? No? Well, the plot is your generic mental illness 'did I forget to take my pills?' plot. It does nothing to challenge the genre or its themes.

The acting isn't bad per se, but the weak characters don't give the cast the opportunity to shine. Ryan Simpkins shows promise, but she just feels so dull in this role. Due to the writing, she's forgettable. The film's original soundtrack was decent, but it doesn't do much for the film. Of course, you'll also be treated to some 'nice' indie music in the form of a music video in the middle of the film. (What is this? The Last House on Cemetery Lane?) The film looks good, too. Anguish is written and directed by Sonny Mallhi. On the technical side, the film is fine. It is, without a doubt, competently made, so that's good. On the other hand, there is barely a shred of entertainment in this film. Mallhi does not craft a sense of dread and his story, which was supposedly inspired by true events, does not leave an impression.

Overall, Anguish is a boring film – a dreadful film. It takes its generic story and jump scares from mainstream horror movies and blends them with the long pretentious 'arthouse' shots and boring hipster characters from indie films to create a disastrous film. It's the type of film I'd only recommend if you're suffering from insomnia. I know it sounds harsh, but I'm just so damn disappointed, especially when you see the technical level of the filmmaker and the effort from the cast. Don't waste your time, I've already done that for you.

Score: 2/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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