Review: Enclosure

An adventurous woman with a secret from her husband insists the couple go camping to reconnect. Something in the woods wipes out a group of hunters nearby, preventing the couple from leaving their tent

Having missed it at this year’s Frightfest I was lucky enough to catch up with this little gem afterwards and it really got under my skin. Patrick Rea’s horror thriller sets itself up to go in one direction and completely throws us of course halfway through and builds a great level of suspense until its shocking climax.
Young married couple Dana (Fiona Dourif) and Charles (Kevin Ryan) go deep into the woods on a camping trip in order to rekindle their relationship and spend some quality time together. Things start well and the great outdoors proves peaceful and quiet. However before long a group of nearby hunters gets attacked by something and one of the survivors –Sean – (Jake Busey) crawls his way into their tent and they start sharing supernatural stories as they try to work out just what the threat is that harbours outside and if they can overcome it.
This sounds like an average story but Rea has taken a simple script and riddled it with twists and turns so that we can’t ever quite see where this is going. There is a particularly strong set up of the characters with some great uses of exposition to reveal important information key to the plot later on. Right from the opening scene as the camera swoops over the trees and woodland it is evident that this is beautifully shot and has been crafted with care and precision by a director who knows what he wants from the outset. The enclosure of the surroundings actually feels quite claustrophobic at times and we are drawn right into the centre of the action.
The performances are all solid. Fiona Dourif is strong as Dana; not the typical damsel in distress role or even ‘scream queen’ she is fairly understated at the beginning but soon transforms into a much stronger female character as she has to step up to the perilous situation. Kevin Ryan is also good as Charles; the charming and charismatic counterpart to Dana he is likeable from the start and manages to maintain this throughout. It’s also nice to see Jake Busey making somewhat of a return to the big screen as he usually only makes it into straight to DVD films now if he’s lucky.
This film is suspenseful, tense, exciting and intriguing to watch. It’s very well shot and has an ambiguous idea at its core which keeps you guessing and delivers effects within its means without appearing amateur. It grips you at the beginning and manages to keep you engaged throughout as a result of good writing and empathetic characters. Rea’s film is one to watch if you’re after something a little bit different.

I’ve said it enough times to anyone who will foolishly listen to me, the greatest tool a filmmaker has within their arsenal is the imagination of the audience who are able to fill in the blanks between what they actually see – and what they imagine they see. It’s also in the day and age of CGI and torture horror one of the most squandered tools as showing too much appears to be the mantra of modern horror.

As I watched Enclosure I felt like I had found a film that answered my prayers. Yes – hands and heads all visible poking out around trees – fleeting glances of beasts through the holes in the tent – it’s all inferred. You have no idea WHATS out there, just its dangerous and has claws. Brilliant! I could only hope that the film could keep up with itself and not just give up on this plan.

Yes at its heart Enclosure is a monster movie and up until the last 10-15 minutes all you catch are close-ups and fleeting glances of ‘something’. Even when you see everything on the reveal, it looks superb – the character makeup is really amazing. There isn’t a hokey 1970s doctor who villain on the screen, it’s a genuinely creepy figure. All the more impressive considering that you’re staring at it in the full light of day.

Fiona Doriff (playing the wife Dana) and Jake Busey (the hunter – Sean) are clearly the leads within the film. The character of the husband was a disappointing third wheel who at points felt written purely to create conflict and to be utilised as a plot device. This being said it was refreshing to watch a horror like this where the traditional gender roles of the ‘victim couple’ were reversed and the film was driven by a strong and dominant female lead.

As a story for me the film worked well enough, but something just didn’t sit quite right with the ending. What was shown on-screen felt out-of-place with the rest of the film, not just in how much it showed of the creatures, but HOW it was showing it. Gone were the sneaky glimpses of monsters in the wilderness, and the sweeping cinematography which had made full use of the fact that chunks of the film were shot in ACUTAL wilderness (rather than a set dressed carpark). What had been crafted fell apart into a collection of (what looked like) strange CGI composite shots, squandering all the hard work done in the previous 80 minutes.

Enclosure is a enjoyable film, but for me just felt like it didn’t get given the ending it deserved.

“Lets go off to the woods in a tent and get away from it all.” Is such a horror trope that nowadays fans can often raise an eyebrow, roll their eyes, or just plain old avoid watching. Filmmakers, we get it. It’s cheap, it looks great, and mankind is afraid of what lurks out there in the dark. But if you’re going to do it for goodness sake bring something new to the table.

Director Patrick Rea does indeed bring something, actually two somethings, a new type of monster in the woods and actor, Jake Busey. What we have here is a monsters without/monsters within tale, who are the real monsters?

The piece starts by introducing couple Dana and Charles, she’s a photographer, he is a musician about to hit the road. He doesn’t want children, she’s pregnant and hasn’t told him. Rea allows this to settle in as we follow the pair preparing for and then heading out on their, get away from it, break. To be fair neither character is immediately likeable and while that gives the characters a truth and reality, it does reduce our engagement with and empathy for, their coming plight.

On the couples first night in the tent they are disturbed by drunken locals and all seems set up for a ‘city dweller outsiders vs redneck locals in the woods. Then the locals , guns and all are wiped out by a barely seen force. There’s something else in these here woods! Charles rescues the lone survivor, bringing him back to the tent. What slowly builds is a slow build psychological power struggle inside the tent while the creatures prowl outside killing anyone who ventures near.

It’s clear that the tent illuminated from within, surrounded by darkness is an allegory for a womans womb. Busey is deliberately creepy and a threat from the moment the couple bring him inside their sanctuary. He has the ubiquitous ‘tale my grandma told me’ to give context to the creatures outside, while also having his own backstory of a wife who disappeared into the woods years ago. The tension is nicely built as the creepy glimpses of creatures build the anticipation of just what they look like.

It is unfortunate that rather than keeping the creatures to the shadows where they are most effective the decision is made to show them revealed. The budget clearly went on the eye fx and in the cold light of day the creatures just aren’t that effective. That said this is a brave little film that punches above its weight. Worth a watch. Bring a beer.

Enclosure had its world premier at Horror Channel FrightFest 2016 in London It is currently on the international festival circuit. 






118 thoughts on “Review: Enclosure

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