Horror is a unique genre that doesn’t have to scare you with just blood and guts. In fact, it’s usually the psychological aspect, be it the inner demon or wondering what the hell is around the corner that makes horror truly terrifying. Writer/ director Ryan M. Andrews takes the ‘screw with your mind’ route and lets the two leads in Art of Obsession take the audience in a very interesting downward spiral.
Kennedy Sait (Ry Barrett) is a writer who turns to drugs and alcohol to first cope with fame than as a crutch after the loss of his wife and child. The pain and addiction become so bad he decides suicide is the only way out, the only way to avoid the pain for good. However, he has a hallucination of his neighbor Patricia Bailey (Winny Clarke) who appears and explains to him that he can’t die yet as there is much more story yet to be told.
This, of course, is not going to be a good thing and sure enough, Kennedy makes a jump in logic that is a frightening sign of his current mental state. His attempt to kick-start his writing career revolves around kicking his addictions (a good choice) and kidnapping Patricia and holding her hostage. (Bad choice) All lines of reality begin to blur as Kennedy buries himself in his work, only to have real life intrude time and time again that make his plan to finish his newest project that much harder.
Ryan M. Andrews comes at the viewer with some solid direction, giving you a great look into the deteriorating mind of Kennedy and what a broken soul can look like from the outside. Andrews teams up nicely with cinematographer Michael Jari Davidson to create a great look and feel to the movie, creating tension and dread without needing any real action or characters to help them at every turn.
Barrett and Clarke are the keys to the success of the movie and for the most part, they are excellent. Barrett is very believable as a man struggling with too many demons and not enough willpower left to fight them. Winny Clarke has the unenviable task of playing two characters, one the muse that pushes Kennedy to beyond his limits, the other the kidnapped neighbor and she pulls both off with style. It is great to see woman characters in a horror movie that are much more than simply target practice for the resident killer. Clarke is haunting as the muse and haunted as the prisoner.
There were a few things that bothered me, such as the pace in certain parts and dialogue that just didn’t work. Some actors were left holding the bag so to speak, in terms of what they had to say to one another, making the flow of words uneven and uncomfortable. Patricia Bailey’s not so wonderful husband also was less than believable at times, and his character overall was a strange addition.
That being said, Art of Obsession was focused, dark and quite entertaining. Ryan M. Andrews used his experience and skill to show that horror has many layers and sometimes what lies just beneath the surface is the most terrifying thing of all.
Four out of five stars
- Direction and cinematography are excellent
- Ry Barrett and Winny Clarke are very believable in their roles
- The pace was sometimes dragged down by some unnecessary and strange dialogue