Review: Anguish

A girl, Tess, is diagnosed with an identity disorder that may actually be channeling an evil, dead spirit inside of her.

I was looking forward to ANGUISH as it deals with a subject close to my heart. Opening with a statistic that one in four cases of mental health are untreatable by medication and therapy we are introduced to Tess whose mental health seems to be worsening and not helped by a father who is away in the military. After the death of another girl it seems that Tess is able to channel the spirit of this other girl.

This isn’t your typical possession movie and it just sits within the remit of the horror genre. You won’t find many scares here but there are a few tension filled scenes during the first half of the movie but nothing to make you elevate from your seat. There is more drama to this than outright horror and it demonstrates the power of loss and a sense of sadness runs through this movie.

I enjoyed ANGUISH and it truly questions the effectiveness of mental health treatment and whether medications help or worsen a person. There isn’t anything special to be found here but it’s a movie with a heart, albeit a broken one. It’s one to watch to judge yourself but don’t visit this expecting too many scares but it does enough to warrant a viewing.

A possession film but not as you know it. Jessica (Annika Marks) and her daughter Tess (Ryan Simpkins) have just moved into their new home in a new town. On her way back from her new school on a day like any other, lonely and sad, Tess stops by a makeshift grave on the side of the road. It is here that the spirit of a girl killed there starts inhabiting Tess. Note to self, don’t move to a new town. Horror lore suggests that it won’t go well.

This isn’t a run of the mill possession where the person suddenly starts talking in tongues, cracks their bones all over the place, gets evil eyes and discovers they can do maniacal grins really quite well. This is a possession if run through Ti West’s mind, well at least at first. It’s a slow burn film and concentrates on the character of Tess and the slow change that she goes through which I felt really worked. But then halfway through they chuck this approach out of the proverbial window and along with it what could have been a really good psychological horror.

The performance of Simpkins as Tess is certainly the highlight of the film and she portrays the internal struggle she is going through really well. Sadly it doesn’t save it once they suddenly decide to drop their beautifully shot indie horror right slap in the middle of generic dullness. Along with a sudden pace change it feels like a completely different film when they start bringing on the reveals and forcing the narrative along. Oh hello speaking in tongues and bones doing what they shouldn’t, how we hadn’t missed you.

Had the film stayed on the path it created I think it would have been something special but as it is, it became something somewhat mundane and oh so run of the mill. It was beautifully shot and certainly not a bad film but sadly not what it could have been.

Anguish is currently on the festival circuit




152 thoughts on “Review: Anguish

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