DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

ESTRANGED (director: Adam Levins; screenwriters: story by William Borthwick & Simon Fantauzzo/Simon Fantauzzo;  cinematographer: Gary Shaw; editor: Ben King; music: Brian Crosby; cast:  Craig Conway (Thomas), James Cosmo (Albert), Bob Duff (Lord Dunfield), Joy Sanders (Lady Dunfield), Eileen Nicholas (Marilyn), Simon Fantauzzo (Callum), Nora-Jane Noone (Kathrine), James Lance (Laurence), Amy Manson (January); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Alexis Varouxakis/William Borthwick; Vicarious Entertainment; 2015-UK)

"A well-delivered dark thriller helmed by first-timer Adam Levins."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A well-delivered dark thriller helmed by first-timer Adam Levins. It's based on a story by William Borthwick & Simon Fantauzzo.

While January (Amy Manson), the young English woman, travels in South America, she's involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident which leaves her temporarily wheel-chair bound with a serious brain injury that should heal and  a case of  amnesia that might not. Her concerned boyfriend, Callum (Simon Quarterman, co-writer and co-producer), escorts her back home to her estranged family's remote, gated, country estate in the UK. January has not seen them the last six years, and has no recollection of either them or her boyfriend.

Her gun collecting sinister dad is possessive (James Cosmo), while mom is a weakling who is apologetic (Eileen Nicholas). The old-fashioned very stiff parents abide by outdated rules (in this house there's no Internet, mobiles, TV, radios and land phones). Meanwhile her emotionally weak sister (Nora-Jane Noone) can't find a way to relate to her, while her crude brother (James Lance) tries to get her to give him a blow job. His action gets her to start remembering why she left home and why she must again leave. As her memory improves, she feels increasingly trapped alone in a bad situation. Even though cut off from the real world, January becomes more determined to escape from this prison. She also has an other world experience, that helps her see why she must find a way to escape before it's too late.

It turns into a creepy film, once it gets going, as it builds up the peril angle in this haunting damsel-in-distress narrative. It relies on a great performance by Manson and a fine ensemble cast to be convincingly scary. Though, when we finally learn the dark secrets, it all seems cloudy and if thoroughly examined the contrived tale wouldn't hold up to further scrutiny. But it catches your attention and is entertaining, and works splendidly if you decide not to be too critical.

REVIEWED ON 3/7/2016       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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