This is a middle of road easy to watch horror movie that has a few chills and not much else.

The film stars Sandra Oh as Amanda a woman who lives on an isolated farm and keeps bees with her daughter Chris, played by Fivel Stewart. Amanda is deathly afraid of electricity and has shunned it from the farm claiming it will make her sick. She has kept Chris close and far away from the outside world.

However, the outside world comes calling when Amanda’s uncle shows up on their door with a mysterious suitcase and news that Amanda’s mother is dead. Strange things begin happening and soon Amanda is haunted by more than just her past.

What works here? Sandra Oh. She is great. She is a strong actress who gives her role depth and emotion. She works so well with Stewart as her daughter that I totally buy their dynamic and want to see their relationship flourish.

There are a few nice chills in the early parts of the movie. A nice bit involves a close up of the uncle while a blurry shape moves in the deep background over her shoulder. Could that be the ghost of Amanda’s mother? It’s a nice moment, and the first half of the film is full of little chills that work nicely.

What doesn’t work? The script. The dialogue is pretty clunky and full of screenwriting 101 cliches. The conflict feels forced especially in a late scene between Amanda and Chris. I just don’t buy the argument at all. The script also has some very on the nose metaphors that feel way to obvious and forced. I feel like the best horror films use the horror as a metaphor for something else like abuse or trauma. This movie doesn’t bother with the metaphor. It states its intentions very clearly. Subtext is for cowards.

Also as the movie progresses it gets bigger but also less impactful. The big climactic scares are far less interesting that the early quiet chills.

That said, the film is very easy to watch. The cast is likable. The scary moments work. The whole thing is wrapped up neatly by the end. If you don’t like scary movies, this one won’t be too taxing. It has quite a few jump scares. The pacing is quick. The acting is good. The story leaves a lot to be desired, but it is serviceable. This isn’t as gruesome as Eyes Without a Face, or as deep as Nope. It is a nice middle of the road horror film for all those who might want a middle of the road horror film.

For me it’s a half a cup of tea. It’s nothing special, but I didn’t dislike it. I would feel comfortable giving it a mild recommendation to certain horror averse friends. It’s streaming on Netflix, and it’s a B –

Spoiler Territory!

Amanda was horribly abused as a child by her mother who was a Korean immigrant. She was a stranger in a strange land and felt alone and isolated. When her daughter naturally developed curiosity about the outside world, she took that as a sign of rejection. She needed her daughter to feel her pain just as badly as she did and she would electrocute her as punishment. Hence Amanda’s lifelong fear of electricity.

Amanda isolated herself and her daughter away from the outside world hoping her mother would never be able to find her and inflict anymore pain on her. When her mother dies it is up to Amanda to perform the proper burial rites to send her mother off to the afterlife.

I found the Korean cultural elements fascinating and this section of the film which addresses the burial rites and beliefs was some of the best stuff in the whole film.

When Amanda refuses to bury her mother, her mother’s vindictive soul begins invading Amanda’s life and infecting her relationship with Chris. Amanda begins turning into her mother metaphorically and physically.

This bit didn’t work for me. The CGI for the transformation never worked and the whole idea feels way too obvious. “I don’t want to become my mother.” “Well, now you are!” It just didn’t play.

Amanda begins treating Chris harshly and seems to lose herself in her anger. Finally full on cgi ghost mother takes over and we get a climax that is over before it really begins. The mother and Amanda reconcile and all is well, until we get a possible sequel tease… roll credits.

The early subtle chills work well. The later stuff doesn’t. The ending feels a little obvious, but I’ll take an obvious ending over a nihilistic unsatisfying rug pull ending.

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