Friday, April 24, 2015

Entity - Movie Review

Entity (2012)
Directed by Steve Stone
-Spoilers ahead-

The best parts of the movie Entity are the first five minutes and the last ten minutes.  This may sound anticlimactic but in all honesty, the middle hour and fifteen minutes of the film are a healthy mixture of boring, generic, found footage-esque paranormal cliches and legit spooky and disturbing moments.  So, let's start from the beginning in Sadovich, Russia in 1983.  We see a naked, gaunt, screaming man, Mischka, in a cell with a dirty old bed, completely freaking out, yelling in Russian, convulsing while strapped to the bed, popping up into the camera unexpectedly, and then legit FLOATING face down in mid-air.  Yep, now I'm freaked out.

We flash forward to present day where we meet a group of five hiking through the forest.  We have Kate, the host of a TV show, psychic Ruth, author Yuri, and sound guy and camera guy, David and Matt.  The group is investigating a 1998 case where the remains of 34 people were found in shallow graves in the middle of the forest.  Police investigations were inconclusive and the case was closed after only one search by the police.  Psychic Ruth is here to lead the investigation and hopefully bring some answers to light on what happened to the 34 people.  We see Yuri being interviewed by Kate, as he was the one who initially brought the story to the TV show to cover.  He has a special interest in the case that is yet to be revealed.


The group reaches an open field wherein Ruth begins to get visions of several sepia-toned apparitions with cloudy eyes and ratty hospital gowns speaking to her in Russian, one of which pops up in her face and makes us all collectively poop our pants.  Ruth gets a vision of several men and women being lined up in a row and shot in the head one after another.  She leads the group to the other side of the trees where they find a massive abandoned warehouse.  They experience all the paranormal haunting cliches such as hearing screams, breathing cold air, hearing voices saying "They shouldn't be here" and an electric chair that moves on its own.  Ruth sits in the chair and sees an old man getting electroshock therapy and comes to the realization that, "They put people like me here" meaning the 34 people killed all were thought to have some sort of psychic ability.

The group continues to explore the building and finds a corridor of cells where the psychics were kept for months in the dark for observation.  There was one who was different from the others, Mischka, whose strong presence emanated from his bed.  We see Mischka pop up again right up in the camera and we all collectively poop our pants AGAIN.  Matt, the cameraman, decides to set his camera up outside Mischka's cell and leave it there as they continue to explore.  Also at this point, David, the sound guy disappears and we later see him being tossed up and down and slammed into the floor like a rag doll by Mischka. 

We have a momentary break in all the excitement by finally gaining an understanding of why Yuri is so interested in this case.  Turns out, Yuri has been here before and was testing Ruth to see if she could find the place on her own, to see if she was a true psychic.  Yuri enlightens us that the facility was run by the government who wanted to see if psychics could read enemy minds or locate strategic locations over long distances.  The government officials tried to increase the prisoners' psychic powers by introducing electric currents into their brains and keeping them in dark soundproof rooms for months to weaken their other senses and strengthen their psychic senses.  When the place was eventually shut down, they took the bodies of any people who were still left in the facility and buried them in the woods.  This is when I forget about the stupid paranormal cliches of this movie and it gets my solid seal of approval for the uniqueness of this back story.

Ruth has finally had enough and says they need to get out but Yuri breaks bad and says they cannot leave.  See, the love of Yuri's live, Tasha, was a psychic and is one of the 34 dead.  He needs Ruth to find her and bring her peace.  As they go on a search for Tasha, the group walks through a hallway and then the double doors slam and lock, leaving Yuri on the other side.  He hears Tasha calling to him and as she follows her image down the hallway he gets blindsided by Mischka's spirit and he and all the other spirits engage in a scream-fest.  Bye bye, Yuri.  Ruth sprints out on her own as Kate and Matt try to escape the building altogether.  We see Mischka attack Ruth and as she's bleeding and about to pass out, she whispers, "Let me help you."  We see creepy naked Mischka hovering on the ceiling and whimpering.  He crawls over to Ruth and convulses and screams in her face and we fade to black.  Kate and Matt decide they can't leave Ruth behind and come back to find her beat up but peaceful that she was able to help bring Mischka peace.  Well, surprise, Mischka is still lurking around and he guts Matt and throws Kate through the air against a wall.

Kate wakes up in Mischka's bed and our movie comes to its depressing close.  Kate walks past all of the cells in the corridor and sees David, Yuri, Matt, all "alive" and solemnly staring at her from their cell beds.  Ruth walks out of her cell with clouded gray eyes and speaks in Russian, "You can never leave here now" and then walks backwards and exits like a boss.  Kate suddenly sees visions of all the former dead prisoners as a single tear rolls down her face.  She goes back to Mischka's cell and sits on his bed contemplatively as opera music plays over the scene as we watch Kate slowly become more and more transparent and then fade away completely.  Very powerful ending (and I'm not being sarcastic for once.)

Here's what I like about Entity:

- Mischka is creepy, crazy, out of control, and always moves in a blur, a shadow, night vision, darkness.  We never see a clear well-lighted shot of what he even looks like.  His erratic movements and constant shrieking and growling and thrashing add to the mystery and depravity of his spirit.

-There is a good effort put forth to creating tension at a pretty steady pace throughout the film.  There are heartbeats pounding over the particularly intense scenes and always fast camera movements to cement the feelings of insecurity and chaos.

-There's no happy ending.  And I like it.  Not every horror film, especially paranormal ones, needs a happy ending where the spirits are put to rest, the demons are exorcised, the house is free of spirits, and everyone goes back to their normal daily lives.  No!  Entity leaves us with a feeling of dread, hopelessness, no peace, no resolution for the souls who died there.  Now we know there are even more souls trapped there than before and any who come to explore in the future will likely be trapped as well.  There is no closure.  The mystery will continue.  No one on the outside gets any answers or any clarity.

I definitely recommend Entity if you can get past the typical paranormal cliches and over-acting of the lead character, Kate, and focus on the deeper depressing story and the awesomeness of Mischka's crazy ass.


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