This haunted house tale is currently streaming on Netflix and adds a few dimensions to the classic ghosts in attic story.
Christina Rodlo, stars as Ambar, a recent immigrant to the US after her mother’s death. She arrives in Cleveland in the dead of winter with the clothes on her back, her life savings in an envelope, and a desperate need for American ID. She is an illegal immigrant and takes a crappy job and an even crappy room in a clearly haunted house where things start going bump in the night.
I really appreciated how the movie handled the classic haunted house question of, “why on earth are you staying in that house?” Well for Ambar, sue has no choice. She has no money and no ID. She literally can’t move out. She tries. I enjoyed the sequence where she takes to the streets in search of new opportunities, but eventually falls back into the house.
The incident that lead to her leaving is the most segment of the movie. One night she is awoken to strange happenings, the ghosts running around are genuinely frightening. The sight of footprints charging toward us is really unsettling. My hairs were raised and my knuckles were whitened. It’s a good sequence.
There’s a lot more to this story than just ghosts going bump in the night. There’s a really empathetic look at someone who is so desperate for a better life that she puts herself in the most precarious position possible. The movie doesn’t preach about immigration. It just tells this particular woman’s story and asks us to empathize with her. I really enjoyed the perspective it offers to its main characters plight.
I had a really good time with this one. It’s is creepy. It has a few good jolts. It has compelling characters. It also has a wild finish that I would never have predicted.
It was my cup of tea. It’s not the best scary movie I’ve seen, but it is enough fun to satisfy you in your Halloween viewing. B+
Okay you’ve entered spoiler country. I’m going to talk freely about the plot. You’ve been warned.
Ambar arrives at the creepy old house, but her landlord Red seems nice enough. He tells her there are no men in the house. The next night she sees a massive terrifying looking bald man beating his head against a door and whispering an incantation. She immediately requests her deposit back so she can leave. Red refuses to give it to her and explains that that’s just his brother. Nothing to worry about.
Turns out there is something to worry about! We learn over the course of the movie that the landlord brothers have been using poor immigrant women in ritual sacrifices to an ancient MesoAmerican deity that resides in a stone box.
The ghosts we’ve been seeing are the spirits of all those killed by this monster. When the monster feeds it rewards it’s faithful subjects with strength and health. The landlord brothers have been enjoying the power of the thing for years. This all plays nicely into the themes and struggles of Ambar and the other immigrant characters we encounter.
When it’s finally Ambar’s turn we get to see this thing emerge. It’s a truly wild creature design. It has a slug like tail, two giant humanoid arms that it uses to walk on, a small head and arms tucked into its gelatinous front. It lifts up its sluggish skirts to reveal a giant bloody mouth that it uses to eat the heads of its victims.
Why the heads? I don’t know. I don’t why it doesn’t eat the rest of the bodies. It’s probably just trying to be more gruesome or maybe the heads are just the tastiest parts. I don’t know, but it makes for a great creature.