RELEASE DATE: Available Now on iTunes and VOD
WRITTEN BY: Ben Cresciman
DIRECTED BY: Ben Cresciman
STARRING: Sara Hagan, Barbara Crampton, Sara Malakul Lane
After suffering a severe mental breakdown, young heiress Janie (Hagan) is left solely in the care of her caretaker cum new-age psychologist, Irma (Crampton), who treats her condition with a bizarre regimen of exercise, tuning forks, and mild torture. After years of such treatment, Janie is allowed to take brief, unsupervised excursions out of the home that has been her asylum. While out on one such jaunt she gets the immediate hots for a young woman named Savannah (Lane). Things soon escalate as Janie’s interests turn to psychotic obsession. Such are the basics of the new fright flick SUN CHOKE from writer/director Ben Cresciman.
Following in the tradition of psychological psychedelia such as BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW and genre-jumping obsession pieces such as STARRY EYES, SUN CHOKE manages to be filled with stylized imagery, off-kilter “treatments,” explicit sexuality, and a deft blending of varying tonal shifts. The flick goes from a “new age” metaphysical 1970s cinema throwback to a quirky, albeit slightly demented, voyeurism piece to full-on horror film in the final reel all with equal aplomb.
While definitely more restrained than the two films mentioned previous (especially in the visual bravado and sickening gore departments, respectively), SUN CHOKE nevertheless finds some creative ways to repulse the viewer, specifically when our “heroine” decides to get more forceful in her obsession.
The main drawback to the film for some will be that a lot of story elements are left purposely vague, and this may irritate those viewers looking for a more straightforward thriller. But for me that wasn’t a problem as I could draw my own conclusions about what the film was trying to say on the subject of psychological and sexual power struggles.
On the strength of its acting (all three of the leads are incredibly strong in their respective roles, with Hagan delivering a real tour de force as the damaged Janie, who can turn from meek patient to cold stalker at the drop of a hat) and the strong visual sense of director Cresciman, I’d recommend this one. Just don’t go in expecting your hand to be held the whole way.