30th Jun2020

‘The Luring’ DVD Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Michaela Sprague, Molly Fahey, Jake Katzman, Rick Irwin, Alex Emanuel, Henry Gagliardi, Laura Spaeth, Ava-Riley Miles, Matan Barr, Angela Rambourg, Gavin Maddox Bergman, Chelsea Reed Davis, Ciara McKay, Patricia Hammond | Written and Directed by Christopher Wells

Are horror filmmakers running out of titles? If the generic title of The Luring is anything to go by, I would suggest that they are… and it’s a shame when good films are hidden behind generic titles.

The Luring kicks off with a nice young family viewing a holiday home in Vermont, but of course there was a tragedy at the house, that had little to do with the hammy acting of the estate agent. We then skip forward to our protagonist, who suffers from amnesia around his childhood, and seems to be related to his time in the family holiday home. The two things are connected. We also discover that, for a time, he was committed to a psychiatric institution as a child.

As an adult, he decides to confront this and travels back to the holiday home with his girlfriend. What could possibly go wrong? There is also a degree of “luring” going on, He finds an “eccentric” lady in a mask, hiding in the basement, and it turns out this is the “social media person” he agreed to meet there. She seems to know him, but he cannot remember her due to that amnesia. He is also attracted to her, so fails to mention to his girlfriend there is a sexy weirdo hiding out in the basement wearing masks. Our protagonist is a bit of a jerk, truth be told and his girlfriend is the perfect loving girlfriend archetype but the film handles it well “I know you find it hard expressing emotions, but you don’t have to be such a dick” is her response when he mocks her for saying something romantic and loving.

In the day, our protagonist spends his time with his blonde, loving girlfriend. At night he is literally kissing the boots of the dark-haired demon lady from the basement. Really, much like in the Shining, the heart of the piece is the lady love interest, the man is being (willingly) corrupted throughout the film, the lady is the one we root for, who makes sensible suggestions and wants to leave the haunted house.

The Luring borrows liberally from some classics like Pet Sematary, IT and The Shining (a red balloon suddenly appearing might be familiar) but this is no bad thing. The film is written and directed by Christopher Wells (his first full feature drama) and features Michaela Sprague in the lead, who was also credited as a dancer in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with this film looking like her only role NOT credited as a “dancer” of some kind.

The acting is uneven, but not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. The direction is effective with some shots showing some real skill – an important trait for a horror film. The Luring is also clever in keeping its scary stuff within budget and is careful with what it does not show. Sound design is also good, in a classic spook house, minimal way, lots of spiders climbing up violin strings and I really enjoy that. The film does an effective job building tension, there is a lot of long shots of our protagonist holding a torch in the dark, heading down into the gloomy basement, a willing supplicant to be “lured”, shaking hands, reaching out to open doors… There is also an effective sense of loneliness and isolation, even when our couple head into town there is no one there. There is a lovely passage of the film when our couple visit a bowling alley and our protagonist gets to talk to some of the surreal locals. It is a particularly good piece of oddball horror film making.

I really enjoy the increasingly mad eyed, picture sniffing of our protagonist. He is no Jack Nicholson, but Rick Erwin does a fine job in a similar role. The most fun to be had here is our howling at the moon, chewing the scenery protagonist descending into madness and evil while uncovering the secrets of his childhood.

The Luring is not in the league of the films it is referencing, but very few films are.The Luring has, however been properly thought through. If I were to ever make a horror film I would spend a huge amount of time starting with a short mission statement of what the message of the film is, then build everything towards that, even before I started thinking about characters, monster or script and a lot of those things have happened here – more thought and care has gone into this film than a lot of its peers. The film is consistently satisfying, has a strong ending and fits together well.

Recommended.

The Luring is out now on DVD and Digital from Wild Eye Releasing.

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