Deon Taylor is an interesting determine, having cast his personal path as a Black filmmaker in Hollywood, independently producing, and now distributing, his movies, and he appears to be the one individual single-handedly preserving the mid-budget grownup thriller alive (see: “The Intruder,” “Black and Blue,” “Traffik”). He’s rigorously centered on the craft of filmmaking, however he’s additionally obsessive about serving a multicultural viewers that goes largely underserved by sure swaths of the trade. A worldwide pandemic was definitely not going to derail his mission, and in his newest movie, the horror flick “Concern,” Taylor takes on the pandemic head-on, using our collective anxieties because the grist for his storytelling mill.
“Concern” is a COVID film, and a contagion movie, and a haunted home story rolled into 100 feverishly stylized minutes. The movie can be a tortured metaphor for the methods wherein all of us permit worry to rule our lives, and the way we manifest what we concentrate on, for higher or for worse, however it’s not a lot a metaphor as it’s plainly and repeatedly acknowledged all through.
Joseph Sikora stars as horror novelist Rom, who takes his girlfriend Bianca (Annie Ilonzeh) on a weekend getaway in Northern California as a reprieve from the pandemic lockdown. They arrive on the rustic Strawberry Lodge, and as he’s about to suggest, he blanches and falters, as a substitute revealing that he’s invited their group of associates to have a good time Bianca’s birthday. They’ve acquired the historic lodge to themselves for the weekend, and critically, don’t fear in regards to the extremely creepy innkeeper who leaves them a horrible bottle of wine, or the detailed tales that Rom tells in regards to the miners who tortured and killed indigenous ladies considered witches. Nope, nothing to fret about in any respect.
As the buddies confess their phobias across the campfire as a way of catharsis, the story unfolds each which approach. There’s the worry of contagion and paranoia that units in, particularly after a information report a few new variant, and as Lou (rapper T.I.) turns into more and more unwell. There’s the “Brujas of Concern” taking maintain of their minds, because it turns into clear that Rom mixed his ebook analysis together with his weekend getaway. However are these associates letting their very own worry infect one another, or is it the brujas, as a result of that’s an vital distinction.
“Concern” depends on craft for creating ambiance and stress — the sickly greenish handheld cinematography by Christopher Duskin, the pounding rating by Geoff Zanelli and the impeccable sound design. However the script, by Taylor and John Ferry, proves that it’s attainable to have too many concepts for only one movie. Taylor’s different outings, like “The Intruder” and “Black and Blue,” had been sleeker and extra streamlined high-concept initiatives; in “Concern” it looks like he’s throwing every part on the wall — thematically and aesthetically — to not see if it sticks, however as a result of he so enthusiastically needs to do all of it. However the overwrought screenplay doesn’t get deep sufficient with the characters, or permit something to breathe.
However deadliest of all, “Concern” is simply not scary. The leap scares don’t land, the fears themselves are all a bit foolish, and it looks like Taylor is holding again for almost all of the run time. An hour in, the setup continues to be occurring, as Rom rummages by means of outdated pictures, placing collectively connections the viewers has by no means been aware about. We’re each forward of those characters, who’re a bit too dumb to root for (except for Bianca, a superb “last woman”), and taking part in catch up on the identical time, with out being clued in to their motivations in any respect. It doesn’t begin ripping till the previous couple of minutes, when the movie ought to have been unleashed your entire time.
Finally, Taylor’s objective with “Concern” is to argue that we shouldn’t let worry rule our lives, however he doesn’t a lot as present why that’s somewhat than simply repeat it. Set in opposition to a worldwide pandemic, the movie proves its reverse argument, that, sparsely, worry, in truth, is usually a good factor.