Monday, July 30, 2012

The Mind Bending Qualities of The Corridor: A Movie Review

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Director: Evan Kelly.

Writer: Josh MacDonald.

Cast: Stephen Chambers, James Gilbert, David Patrick Flemming, Matthew Amyotte, Glen Matthews and Mary-Colin Chisholm.

It is always surprising to remember that Canada has only created approximately 1500 films since 1911. This is surprising because there have been so many great Canadian films created over this time such as David Cronenburg's Naked Lunch or Allan King's The Last Season. Now, director Evan Kelly and Josh MacDonald's can add their Nova Scotian shot feature, The Corridor, to this excellent cadre of films.

The Corridor begins as a thriller which transitions into a science fiction film. Along the way, five friends must confront a force that alters their minds. The corridor also changes their behaviours as friend turns on friend in a murderous fashion. The Corridor creates enough tension and enough mystery to leave viewers with questions and interpretations. The abstract elements are what stayed with this watcher.

There is a scene of madness shown early in the film that involves paranoia and violence. Here is your intriguing hook. The film then changes temporarily into a buddy movie, with several friends meeting at an isolated cabin. A wake is also involved. Then, Tyler, the protagonist, ventures into the nearby woods to bury his mother's ashes. He finds something on the frozen fields that haunts him. A luminescent wall emerges that will effect the ensuing events.

Also influencing the events are the personalities of the five friends. Chris (David Patrick Flemming) is a man searching for a change. He is trying to escape the remnants of a failed musical career. Everett (James Gilbert) is working a dead end job at a nearby bar. His heavy drinking might signal that he is also seeking an escape from reality. Jim aka Huggs (Glen Matthews) is a man that is dealing with some serious family and sexual issues. Robert (Matthew Amyotte) is a character with a poorly utilized bald cap. He is also experiencing problems with his wife. He bemoans couple's therapy and a houseful of kids. Finally, Tyler (Stephen Chambers) is the one who instigated the madness early in the picture. He may or may not be experiencing episodes of schizophrenia. All of these characters, with the exception of one or two, are searching for something better than what life has given them.

So, the corridor offers escape for some and torment for others. For Tyler, the corridor reunites Tyler with his mother. For Chris, this portal offers unending connection. Each character experiences something different, but each character is also changed by their interaction with this force.

Exposure to the corridor alters their mind like a hallucinogen. However, their hallucinations of power lead them to murder. The characters seem unable to use their new insights with any positive purpose. It is as if the powers of the corridor are unfathomable leading the characters to madness. Or, perhaps this portal is a symbol for an afterlife where the mortal coil is just a hindrance to true understanding. Everett is happy to send his friends into the abyss. Either way, the corridor is effecting the characters while causing them to behave irrationally. And it is this questioning of the corridor's purpose that is so interesting.

Most viewers will be mesmerized as Josh MacDonald's script unfolds. The writing goes off on many tangents. Thus, the film's story is not wrapped up neatly. This reviewer prefers an open ending over the closed ending. The former style of conclusion leaves the watcher with the burden of responsibility to interpret what they have seen on the screen.

Director Evan Kelly, in his first feature, captures all of the many strange events onscreen with competence. Interior shots do not feel claustrophobic. Exterior shots are bright; they also capture the beautiful cinematography of Nova Scotia. The actors will also draw viewers in with their believable performances. These film elements allow the film's story to be told coherently.

This film fan cannot praise The Corridor enough. This film tackles themes of mental illness, greed and existentialism while delivering an intriguing story line. The film also looks at struggles that might be more male focused. However, this film will appeal to a diverse audience. Indie thriller fans are highly encouraged to seek out The Corridor now that it is available on multiple formats. Just do not expect this film to leave your thoughts quickly as The Corridor requires that you question the brutal events unfolding onscreen.

Overall: 8 out of 10 (good cinematography, good acting, excellent writing, interesting concept).

*winner of Best Canadian Feature (Gold)-- People's Choice Award-- Fantasia Fest, Montreal, QC, 2011.

**released on DVD July 24th through IFC Films.

The film's fan page is here with more details:

The Corridor on Facebook

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