(A.k.a. THE GATEWAY)
Danni (Danni Smith) moves into a new apartment, having determined to rebuild her life after a certain traumatic past which has seen her leave her job as a nurse in a hospice.
With her Uncle Gus (Rick Zahn) just a short telephone call away, and a new job campaigning on the streets on behalf of raising funds to help save the whales, things seem to be coming together for Danni. Until she buys a new curtain for her shower.
She hangs the curtain up one evening; when she wakes the next morning, it's gone. Does she have an intruder? Or did she simply get drunk while organising her apartment and forget to put the curtain up in the first place, as Gus suspects?
Somewhat perturbed by what she's convinced is a bizarre instance of theft, Danni arranges to get her locks changed and have the apartment block's maintenance man, Preston (Preston Lawrence), to check the place for security issues.
Preston gives the place the all-clear. Danni buys a new shower curtain, hangs it up and tries to put the bizarre earlier incident out of her mind. But that night her curtain disappears again.
Third time is a charm: Danni places a hidden camera in her bathroom to catch the culprit in the act. What she sees is the last thing she expected ... the curtains are being sucked at super-speed into an otherwise invisible vortex positioned halfway up the tiled bathroom wall.
She shows this footage to her geeky colleague Tim (Tim Lueke). While Danni is worried sick about what she may be sharing her apartment with, Tim is excited. He believes the pair of them can become famous scientists once they have determined precisely what their "discovery" is. The first thing they must do, he says, is find out where the curtains are going. To this end, he buys a fresh curtain and paints Danni's contact details on to it.
Sure enough, when the latest curtain is sucked through the wormhole, Danni receives a telephone call a short while later. With no small amount of trepidation, she and Tim drive out to meet the caller at a remote local shack. There, they meet oddball Willy (Gregory Konow). He claims to have happened upon the curtain at a nearby creek.
A visit to said creek introduces more dubious characters, who become more relevant to the plot mere minutes later ... but to elaborate on HOW they fit in would be giving too much away...
CURTAIN is a curious little sci-fi/horror hybrid from New York filmmaker Jaron Henrie-McCrea. Shot in HD, it often looks stylish and filmic despite its obvious low budget (the film was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign). Henrie-McCrea's inventive cinematography and Eric Scherbarth's skilled editing go a long way towards the film's successful aesthetic appeal.
The story intrigues and, at around 75 minutes in length, doesn't drag things out too far. The set-up works in that we want to learn the truth behind the vortex, the apartment's ill-fated former tenant Bert (Chuck McMahon) and the insidious Pale Man character (Martin Monahan). The truth is out there, and although the final act isn't entirely satisfactory in terms of revelations, you won't feel so cheated due to the slim running time.
I struggled to warm to the lead protagonists. The actors are decent enough; the fault must lie in the script, co-written by Henrie-McCrea and co-producer Carys Edwards. The characters aren't likeable. Danni is a dour, disagreeable misery-guts in every scene (it's as if Henrie-McCrea directed Smith to look sullen in every scene), while Tim is one of those quick-talking, do-gooding, noodle-eating hipster-types that are painfully easy to loathe. I think he was meant to be the comic relief. He's nauseating.
Still, it's a well-shot and original horror-thriller with quirky moments of humour laced throughout. Is it scary? Nah. A lot of it works, some of it doesn't. Its shortcomings are largely due to those annoying lead characters. This is no doubt the reason I didn't find the final act as moving as others have done, either...
For more curtain-related celluloid thrills, why not check out TORN CURTAIN, CURTAINS, CURTAIN UP, BEYOND THE CURTAIN, Baz Luhrmann's RED CURTAIN TRILOGY, the early Madonna film A CURTAIN SACRIFICE, Ruggero Deodato's CURTAIN RUN, Nick Broomfield's controversial CURTAIN COURTNEY and essential celebrity documentary SYD LITTLE: CURTAIN CAMERA. Apologies.
So, on to ICON Entertainment's region 2 DVD (one of their FrightFest Presents series of titles).
The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 ratio and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. This uncut presentation benefits from strong true colours, noise-free blacks and a healthy level of detail.
English audio is provided in 2.0 and 5.1 mixes. Both are evenly challenged, consistent and well-balanced propositions. Optional English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing are easily readable at all times.
An animated main menu page leads into an animated scene selection menu, which allows access to the film by way of 12 chapters.
Extras begin with FrightFest organisers Paul McEvoy and Alan Jones offering an optional 2-minute introduction to the film.
A 9-minute Making Of featurette proffers more insight. It's a fast-paced, wittily presented documentary revealing Henrie-McCrea to be a wholly likeable, upbeat Mohawked fella who has a good rapport with his cast. A healthy amount of behind-the-scenes footage helps make this feature most worthwhile.
The cast and crew reconvene for an affable, occasionally raucous audio commentary track.
We also get trailers for other titles in the FrightFest Presents roster: THE UNFOLDING, LANDMINES GO CLICK, LAST GIRL STANDING and THE LESSON.
With less annoying protagonists this imaginative, ambitious little slice of ridiculousness could've been something really special. As it stands, its strengths still qualify it as a worthwhile viewing endeavour. It's served very well on ICON's excellent disc.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by ICON Entertainment|
|see main review|