Holy cow! A film for which the word 'excess' is not nearly big enough!
Reviews I've heard and read are being very guarded about what happens, and very rightly so. I'll follow in their wise footsteps.
I knew that Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem (a writer experiencing a 'block') play a couple in a stable relationship living in an isolated large rural house (filmed in Canada) when they have an unexpected visitor (Ed Harris) who, it's slowly revealed, has an admiration for him. He's then invited by Bardem to stay a while, much to Lawrence's reservations in allowing hospitality so readily to a total stranger. The next day and equally unexpectedly, the man's wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) turns up, and is soon pushing her opinions onto Lawrence regarding the house, which she's in the process of decorating, but more disturbingly, enquiring about the couple's childlessness. She's soon talking as though she owns the place and has no compunctions about delving into the couple's personal lives. Jennifer Lawrence is completely confused about their visitors, especially the woman's unwelcome forwardness, and keeps imploring Javier Bardem to get them to leave - but for a reason she can't quite account for, he's not keen to do so. To say that things then get 'out of control' would be a bit of an understatement, so I'll reveal no more.
I was thinking that the film might turn into a four-persons chamber drama, whilst being aware that there were certain horror elements attached. Let's just say that it develops into something rather more than that!
I thought the several suspenseful sequences were exceptionally well achieved. (Down in a darkened basement with torch, alone - again!) It's a long time since I've seen a film where so many times I hardly dared keep looking at the screen, such was the extremely tense, nail-biting effect.
There have been vastly diverse opinions on the film - about equally divided between enthusiastic cheers and thumbs-down boos, the latter accompanied by some considerable laughter, which I can understand. It walks a very delicate line between serious, straight-faced horror and vastly O.T.T. effects thrown on screen, some near-comedic. Views have been expressed that it falls down badly on the side of 'tosh', which I don't really share. Echoes of the film 'Rosemary's Baby' come over loud and clear - as also Ken Russell's 'Tommy', perhaps not quite as marked.
Jennifer Lawrence carries the film with her inner conflicts and suspicions and does remarkably well in a difficult role which demands some scenes of sustained hysteria. Javier Bardem I couldn't always make out what he was saying, though I think he performed adequately in a more enigmatic part.
Director Darren Aronofsky has already made a name for himself, principally through 'Black Swan' but also 'The Wrestler', 'Requiem for a Dream' and 'Pi'. This film will further reinforce his name as being one deserving to be noticed - not always in a positive sense with this latest, it's true - but he is one it's getting impossible to ignore.
I find it impossible to dismiss this film as codswallop, as some have done, so it's clear which side of the fence I'll come down on, even though I'm unable to satisfactorily explain what on earth it's all about........................7.
1 hour ago