Anguish (2015)


Sonny Mallhi appears to be someone trying hard to get a reputation as an independent horror director.  Unfortunately, despite the fact he's been on the producing end of a number of successful films, he hasn't had much luck getting horror fans to pay attention to his own material.  I can kind of understand why after watching Anguish, as this type of movie - slow-paced, a minor-key soundtrack and mopey teenagers with mental problems - isn't necessarily what most people would want to watch.  Initially I was dreading the rest of the movie after the first few scenes, although I'm glad I decided to stick with it. 

Jessica (Annika Marks) and her daughter Tess (Ryan Simpkins) move to a small town in the hopes of reducing their day-to-day costs and to help Tess with her mental issues.  While exploring the town Tess comes upon a cross in memory of Lucy (Amberley Gridley), a teenage girl who was killed in an accident.  Feeling a sudden shock, she flees the area, but then starts seeing strange things around her new home. 

As the manifestations escalate Jessica becomes concerned that the behavior - including self-mutilation - means that Tess is getting worse.  Soon, though, it appears that Lucy is using Tess's body as a vessel in order to contact her mother Sarah (Karina Logue) in an attempt to resume her previous life.  

This is another one of those supernatural tales supposedly based on true events which, I think is pretty obvious by now, usually means they are true to someone.  I have no idea what the actual situation or case was, other than a photo of a woman at the end with no name or explanation.  If there really was no case then it's a silly conceit, as the movie works fine as a slightly different take on possession. It's quite successful on that end, with a surprisingly high quality of acting for a small budget horror film. 

It also doesn't rely on solely on jump scares and, thankfully, doesn't rehash old exorcism tropes.  While there is some concern by the local priest, Father Meyers (Ryan O'Nan), over what type of spirit is in Tess, ultimately Jessica and Sarah figure out how to deal with it themselves, which is by trying to convince Lucy to the do the right thing, even if Tess's spirit is happy to find some peace from her mental problems by just letting Lucy take over. 

While this is definitely a slow burn, I admire the fact that this both took the time to develop where it was going without overstaying its welcome.  I am also glad that I didn't let the first few minutes of the film define what I thought of it, especially since it seemed like too many other young-adult horror films at the start.  It's an odd film, but an enjoyable one once it all gets moving.

Anguish (2015)
Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Ryan Simpkins, Annika Marks, Karina Logue, Amberley Gridley
Director: Sonny Mallhi






 

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