Ladies! If the husband wants to move to a house in a remote location, make sure he has no ulterior motives.
Newlyweds Mike (Marcin Paluch) and Carrie Bonner (Tracy Willet) buy a home in the woods, but not long after they move in their lives take a dramatic turn. The once loving husband gets all cold and secretive, Carrie witnesses a murder by their very strange neighbor, and after she tells Mike what she saw, he attacks her and leaves her for dead in a pit of other mangled bodies (Guess the honeymoon period is over). But it’s not that easy to kill Carrie, and when she escapes what is meant to be her grave, she finds that her dearly beloved has been harboring a very important secret; one which points to the fact that Carrie is not quite the woman she used to be.
I have to be careful in writing this review for Animosity; if I say too much, I might give away a key plot point that you should experience without spoilage — so I shall tread lightly. Act one shoots right out of the gate with a scene that is both disturbing and intriguing: A very normal looking woman is walking through the woods — but what’s not so normal is she’s carrying a circular saw, and at the same time chasing a young woman who is hurt and bleeding (This can’t be good). It’s only a matter of moments before the older woman catches up to the younger one, but before her imminent demise, the young woman pleads for her life. She says, “Whatever I did I’m sorry.” Than the kicker; with tears in her eyes she continues on, “Please…mommy.” Whaaaat? What kind of mother cuts her child into a million pieces? Writer/director Brendan Steere had me hooked like a fish, and all I wanted to do was sit and watch, in the hopes that the reveal would live up to these first few moments.
The beauty of Animosity is you never really know what you’re getting into. As the story unfolds, it becomes more engrossing because Steere does a great job of holding our attention without using cheap jump scares, or age old horror movie tricks. While the film is obviously a low budget affair, with less than stellar acting, and a third act that bogs down just a bit, it is a unique enough tale that is definitely worthy of your time.
Carrie Bonner is the central figure, and actress Tracy Willet is the main reason the film works as well as it does. Her portrayal of a woman whose life is suddenly thrown into turmoil is effective because she never goes over the top. Willet remains grounded, giving her characters’ actions a sense of realism. Willet is a sympathetic lead, someone you root for; but also a woman with an immense amount of strength that immediately shows itself when husband Mike unexpectedly goes off the rails. Did I mention that the “happy” couple is living in the same house that the killer mom lived in just a few short months before? Hmm…
At first it appears that Animosity is the typical haunted house/slasher/horror movie, which makes sense considering the brutal murder that opens the film. But nothing is typical about this film, and Steere keeps the audience in the dark right along with Carrie. There are no paranormal boogey men, or supernaturally powerful masked killers, picking off their prey one by one. In all actuality, Animosity is more mystery than horror, there are real people involved in this secret, not monsters, which makes the experience all the more frightening.
The biggest problem with Animosity is the Dolby 2.0 audio, with dialogue that is often uneven. Some parts are so low that it’s hard to make out what is being said, and at other times the intrusive soundtrack is blaring so loudly that I had to keep the remote close at hand in order to prevent my eardrums from rupturing. The video is far more pleasant, the standard def 1.77:1 widescreen presentation is clear and crisp, with bluish hues throughout, giving the remote wooded area an even more eerie feeling. Extras include a behind the scenes featurette, and shown in its entirety a fun little short called “Demon’s Bite,” parts of which were used in Animosity; and last, but not least, the Trailer Vault.
Animosity is not a perfect film by any means, but it moves out of the familiar shadows of most horror movies and gives audiences a fresh new perspective on the genre.