THE CORRIDOR – Fantastic Fest Review
UPDATE: Josh MacDonald was awarded Best Screenplay in the AMD & Dell “Next Wave” Spotlight Competition at the Fantastic Fest 2011 Awards for THE CORRIDOR.
My favorite science-fiction stories are often the subtle ones, films and literature that delve deeper into the philosophical of the genre pool, more than simply wading in the shallow end with fantastic technology and the sensationalism of aliens. THE CORRIDOR, written by Josh MacDonald and directed by Evan Kelly, does this well, while also mingling nicely with the psychological thriller genre.
THE CORRIDOR begins with a jolt to the viewer’s attention, firing a bullet of essential back story at point blank range, leaving a residue of smoldering mystery to ignite the slowly burning story that follows. Stephen Chambers stars as Tyler, returning from a stint of recovery after having a breakdown triggered by his mother’s death. In a show of support and to celebrate Tyler’s return, his four best friends decide to reunite with him for a weekend at his mother’s small house out in the Canadian wilderness.
David Fleming plays Chris, Tyler’s closest friend and probably the most level-headed of the five. James Gilbert plays Everett, the wilder of the friends and a musician with a borderline drinking problem. Matthew Amyotte plays “Bobcat,” the big, burly ex-football star turned family man. Finally, Glen Matthews plays Jim, or “Huggs” as he’s called by the rest of the crew, the smart and somewhat nerdy friend. Together, they’re an unlikely group of characters with a natural chemistry.
In the beginning, the friendly get together seems harmless enough, despite an underlying thread of mutual reluctance and trepidation amongst the friends. It’s difficult for them to feel at ease around Tyler, and the opening scene of THE CORRIDOR offers a more than reasonable explanation for this uneasiness. Over the course of their time together, Tyler’s four friends become more relaxed, but after Tyler takes a late night walk on his own into the woods, he begins to fear the worst about his condition.
Tyler’s mother Pauline (Mary-Colin Chisholm) has a very small role on screen, but the character has a much more significant role in the story as her and her son Tyler share a unique connection, but may not be what it appears on the surface. THE CORRIDOR refers to something Tyler’s discovers on his solitary walk into the woods, leading him to gather his friends to witness for themselves, but Tyler’s actions will ultimately lead to events that change their lives forever.
THE CORRIDOR showcases a cast of relative unknowns, young talent that collectively delivers a high caliber performance. This plays directly into the success of the director’s vision, as this is a dialogue driven story with strong, well developed characters. The viewer is given ample time to empathize with each of the characters and their motives, but the pacing of the film is also crucial, maintaining a comfortably controlled release of clues enhanced with properly placed brow-raising twists.
As THE CORRIDOR rises to a boiling point it morphs gently into a horror story wrapped around a science-fiction puzzle. What exactly is the Corridor? What does it mean? Where does it lead? These are the questions the filmmaker sews within our minds and leaves to germinate and take root. Evan Kelly tells a strong, engaging story that raises curious ideas, but he stands back and allows the viewer to come to their own conclusions about the Corridor.
Evan Kelly makes some bold but effective choices in his use of CGI. The special effects are minimal and simple, but not cheesy or distracting. THE CORRIDOR is a precise description of the anomaly presented in the film, while maintaining an nearly indescribable nature. The makeup effects are brutal and graphic, but do not exceed necessity. THE CORRIDOR seamlessly blends human drama with science fiction, psychological and visceral horror, and even a touch of metaphysical philosophy for one of the more mesmerizing but accessibly cerebral films I’ve seen in years. Enter THE CORRIDOR with your thinking cap on, but there’s no need to turn it up to eleven on the dial.