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The Movie (2022)

Walter (Jarrod Pistilli) wants to make a movie, and he doesn’t care what he has to do to get it done. Walter is also obsessed with actress Janet (Bonnie Root)–and he needs her to be in his movie. So, naturally, Walter forces himself into Janet’s home, torture’s her, and makes his movie on location in Janet’s house. The question is, how far will Walter go to make The Movie, and how far is too far? Together Janet and Walter must determine what is best for the movie, but that will prove to be difficult…and uncomfortable.

Walter is a psychopath, and he guides viewers through a movie that plays with the limits of what many may believe is acceptable in filmmaking. He’s ultimately the vessel through which everything is told and the lens by which everything is seen throughout the course of The Movie. Both he and Bonnie play pivotal roles in how the film is received–they are the only two people ever on screen, and they are tasked with ensuring that this horrifying film reaches its viewers in the right capacity. They do this with great aplomb, and they lead viewers down a very dark path, one where there’s no looking back.

The Movie is one of the most twisted things that I’ve seen in a long time. Every horrifying thing that you think might happen occurs in this film, and it’s uncomfortable from beginning to end. As The Movie moves forward, the intensity slowly picks up–making things more and more difficult to digest. However, this aspect of the film is so perfectly executed, and Writer-Director Michael Mandell never misses a beat throughout the course of the film. He finds ways to bring the darkness present in the film to life with ease, and viewers can easily understand Mandell’s intent from the opening seconds right through to the final final scene of the The Movie. There are many moving parts within the darkness of the film–acting, lighting, score/soundtrack, etc., but I think the most prominent is the acting of both Pistilli and Root.

Again, the two actors are the only ones presented to viewers, effectively being the only ones that exist throughout The Movie. They are tasked with creating horror in the most terrible ways, diving deep into the human mind to extract a series of fears that some of us may not even know exist, and, interestingly enough, creating some form of dark, subtle comedy. They do all of this, and it’s safe to say that Root’s performance is one of the more masterful that I’ve seen in some time. She exudes confidence, even in her most vulnerable scenes, and she helps to facilitate a story meant to reach viewers on a number of emotional levels. Not enough can be said about the acting throughout The Movie, and the majority of the film’s success comes as a result of Pistilli and Root.

The Movie, while its intensity remains present throughout, is filled with comedy on an incredibly subtle scale. That comedy is understood, however, and it works to create some semblance of balance in a haunting film. I’d imagine that the vast majority of viewers will find instances of The Movie cringeworthy and/or horrifying, and it needed something to allow viewers to remain present–and that’s just what the comedy does. On the surface comedy seems out of place in a film filled with physical and emotional torture, but it serves its purprose with vigor, ultimately mirroring the real world in so many ways, and helping to bring this interesting tale to life.

The physical darkness that exists amplifies the way in which the horror reaches viewers, and it constantly keeps viewers on their toes. The darkness can sometimes impede our view, sometimes it adds to the suspense, and other times it plays into the idea of straight up horror that permeates the entirety of the film. Darkness plays such a pivotal role in The Movie, and without the expertise of the electrical department, even with the brilliance of everything else, I’m not sure that The Movie finds the same level of success.

The Movie is a rather underwhelming title, and the reality is that the title alone will do one of two things–intrigue or turn viewers away (even before they watch the film). This is a classic case of not judging a book by its cover; wait until you’ve seen the film in full before making a decision. It’s a wonderfully developed film, led by two impeccably talented individuals–and, rest assured, the title is no reflection of this film. What’s so wonderful about The Movie is that viewers can appreciate it for what they can see on the surface, not having to search for a deeper meaning–but deeper meaning exists nonetheless. While The Movie can be difficult to swallow, it truly does have something for everyone–and it’s one of my favorite films this year.

Written & Directed by Michael Mandell.

Starring Bonnie Root & Jarrod Pistilli.




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