The Corridor: Horror with a brain

As a huge fan of the horror, I’m constantly searching for a new filmmaker to bring a fresh take on genre. As much as I enjoy the formula of so many films, at times I feel jaded that I’ve seen it all, and nothing will surprise me anymore. You get to know the beat of a horror film like it is a song, you tap in time with the jump scares, you harmonize on the plot and characters, like listening to a familiar song. It gets to the point where each one is like a cover version of that song. Once and awhile that song gets changed, you lose timing, and it throws you for a loop.

That song this time was a little independent horror film called ‘The Corridor’. Available for Instant View on Netflix, this is one of those ‘hidden gem’ films. Something that you might otherwise skip over without a second’s notice. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this film is not only ambitious, but also feels like a wholly original idea.

The film starts off with a group of friends going to visit another one of their group. When they walk into the house they find a dead woman on the floor and their friend locked in a closet. When they let him out, he attacks and stabs one of the men through the hand, while speaking utter gibberish. Cut to some time later and we see that the friends, Chris, Jim, Bob, and Everett are planning to have a guy’s weekend up at the cabin of their disturbed friend Tyler’s cabin. Tyler has been released from a psychiatric ward and is now on medication to block out what was causing him to lose his mind. The trip is not so much just a fun weekend, but a chance to reconnect with each other, and possibly to see if they can ever hold on to their friendship with Tyler after what happened.

When Tyler goes off on his own to scatter his mother’s ashes (the woman on the floor), he runs into something in the woods. As he is walking back to the cabin, he is surrounded by a gigantic field of light that looks like a giant corridor. While in it, his nose starts to bleed, and he is left terrified by the thought of his illness returning again. He is first hesitant to talk to his friends about it; for fear that they will turn on him, as they are already jumpy around him and focusing on his every action. Later that night when the rest of the men are asleep, he goes back out, and sees it yet again, this time though he also gets a horrifying vision of his deceased mother standing amongst the trees.

Tyler’s closest friend Chris (the one he stabbed) is the only one he feels he can confide in, and finally begs him to come with him to see it.  Chris being wary, asks the others to back him up, much to Tyler’s protest. At first the other men aren’t able to see it, but when Tyler enters the space, it lights up all around them. This scene is perfectly done, and you can see the excitement and joy at this discovery. The men all speak about how they feel good and clear while they are in it, how they don’t want to leave it, even as their noses all begin to bleed.

From here, the horror starts. The men return to the cabin and now something is different about them. Their personalities start to shift, they are able to know things about each other that are secret, and a growing sense of dread falls over Tyler as he watches what seems to be the disintegration of his friends before his eyes. I won’t go into any more detail of the plot from here, but I will say that it gets crazy and doesn’t let up until the final frame.

This is another film of the ‘slow burn’ variety. It requires patience from the viewer, which I don’t see as a bad thing at all. The characters are built in a way that makes them all feel real and believable. They are each distinct personalities and not just clichéd stock puppets waiting to be killed. A tribute to the writing, directing, and acting, is that by the time the horror starts, you genuinely care about the characters and it feels like you are a part of this group, and you hate seeing what transpires. For a low budget film the acting is above average, it doesn’t feel like a movie that the director just hired his buddies to do the movie for him. The practical and digital effects are also very good save for a few moments where the CGI isn’t as nice as a blockbuster, but that is to be expected, and didn’t hurt the film at all.

The film’s shining point though, is the story. As I said, this is an ambitious film. At no point does the director (Evan Kelly) stop to explain everything to the audience. We don’t get an origin for the entity, nor are we told what it is doing to these men. It is left up to interpretation, but if you think about it, the answer is fairly clear and extremely inventive and intelligent. It is nice to have a film that doesn’t feel the need to pander to some need for outright detailed instructions. This film succeeds in the way that it makes you think about what you’ve seen long after it is over. It also has some genuine moments of terror, and ones that aren’t played for cheap. It asks more of its audience than just shut off your brain and wait for the next kill.

Though not without its flaws (including the worst bald cap makeup I’ve seen in a film), this is truly an impressive debut feature for Kelly. This is a director that knows how to direct actors, how to set up mood, and also take a hard concept and translate it into a visual medium that makes it feel believable. I would love to see him stay in the genre if only to see what more he could bring to it with his talents.

If you don’t mind a movie with a slow pace (though one that doesn’t drag on or feel dull) and are looking for something different out of a horror film, then I can’t recommend ‘The Corridor’ enough. This is a stand out film from  countless ghost/slasher/torture films of the last decade. If you like cerebral thrillers that can scare you and make you think, then this is definitely the one to see.

Check out the Trailer here

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