The horror genre has been guilty lately of putting out films that just don’t have a lot of substance to them. A jump scare here or there and over the top acting and soundtrack have been used to hide the fact that most films seem satisfied with being a disposable entry to the genre or just jumping on a certain bandwagon and going along for the ride.
Horror fans, I am here to drag you away from the mundane by telling you about the creepy and disturbing film The Sublet.
The movie takes place in a small sublet apartment where we meet a young couple Joanna (Tianna Nori) and Geoff (Mark Matechuk) who have just moved in with their young baby. The family seems quite normal but from the outset there is something a bit off about the apartment. The couple settles in and soon we watch everyday pressures begin to mount, with Joanna taking the brunt of that pressure on herself.
As Geoff continues to spend a lot of time away from Joanna and the baby to focus on his career, feelings of resentment and abandonment begin to build inside of Joanna which grow stronger day after day, week after week. To make matters worse, the house begins to whisper to her, fueling her paranoia and feelings of inadequacies. When Joanna finds a lost journal in the apartment written by a woman going through the same things, the pressure builds to a boiling point and the viewer wonders not when she will explode, but what form these pent up feelings will take when they are suddenly let loose.
Director John Ainslie does a great job setting up the atmosphere right from the opening credits and slowly and deliberately drags the viewer along in a wonderfully thought out story. The atmosphere is tense and a sense of dread hangs over everything, not an easy feat to accomplish but done so quite well here.
He had a lot of help along the way, with Greg Biskup making every shadow and corner look eerie and grim and the music done by Jeff Morrow helping to build tension in many scenes without going overboard and destroying the moment. These three men laid out the foundation and left it to the actors to bring it home.
Tianna Nori’s performance as Joanna was nothing short of brilliant. Her work earlier this year in The Demolisher, as a police officer crippled in an assault was a great look at controlled violence and anger and now feels like the perfect stepping stone to the wonderful job she did in this film. Joanna becomes an instantly recognizable character to those familiar with the world of post-partum depression and mixing that with the external pressures put on her by what exists in her apartment make for a frightening persona indeed. Mark Matechuk does a great job playing off of Nori, turning in a perfectly subdued performance as the shell shocked husband living in a world of confusion and denial.
While you can describe this movie as a psychological thriller, make no mistake that the anxiety, pressure and dread that build up are indeed horrifying to watch, culminating in a bloody ending that is both sad and chilling to watch.
For once, everyone involved in a movie like this was on top of their game and the result was a movie that knew what it was doing and executed that plan to perfection. The Sublet may not be that movie that shocks you with jump scares and gore but if you want to watch something that has purpose and builds atmosphere and terror to wonderfully eerie heights, this is the film for you.
Four and a half stars out of five
- Brilliant performance by Tianna Nori
- Excellent mood established by everyone involved
- Great build up from beginning to end
- The scene with the two cops seemed odd and out of place