We all handle loss differently, endure it and make it out the other side, differently. Potentially a significant event in a person's life, given the context, can force us to come face-to-face with qualities that manifest as a result of the changes we go through in enduring such an event. But perhaps these qualities aren't the result of character changes; perhaps these qualities were always there, and the situation was simply the catalyst for them to manifest. This is where Jerry J. White III's genre debut, 'The Horror' comes in. Posing the question, "Do people really ever change, or is it that you're simply born with all the qualities you will ever have, qualities that will only manifest with changes in situations?" (ok, technically 2 questions).
Rademacher twins, Malcolm and Isabell, head to a secluded family cabin during the winter with their significant others Annie and Chris in hopes of winding down, enjoying each other's company, and ultimately finding their smiles in the wake of their parents death. The inability to cope with staying at a family vacation spot, one that's rife with the now painful memories once shared by their family, causes the gathering to end prematurely, leaving Malcolm and Isabell alone. The problems only escalate when the siblings face a traumatic break-in that leaves them in a further state of emotional disarray.
The setup is fairly simple but provides no more than what's needed to set the stage for the crux of the film; a paralleled view of each sibling's method for coping with the traumatic events, and subsequently bringing us, the viewer, closer to answering the aforementioned questions posed by the film. With regards to Isabell, she looks to find healing and closure through her therapy sessions (which by the way, is also how the first two thirds of the film unfolds; her perspective memories, visualized for us). Conversely, Malcolm is seemingly unable to - or perhaps has no desire to - move past the events that have sent him spiraling down a slow decent towards unhinged madness; and it is here, with his particular journey, that we also find the film's strongest performance.
While Callie Ott does a fantastic job fleshing out Isabell as a vulnerable yet stubbornly selfish individual, one that's interesting enough to keep us engaged in following along, it's Raymond Creamer's portrayal of Malcolm that allows 'The Horror' to ascend from a competent drama, to a thrilling psychological horror film. Not to give too much away, but we definitely saw shades of Jack Nicholson ('The Shinging'), James Brolin ('The Amityville Horror') and most interestingly, Anthony Perkins ('Pyscho') present in Creamer's performance during Malcolm's mental and emotional unraveling; and when coupled with the background information divulged by Isabell, regarding Malcolm's past behavior, the film reaches a crescendo that's both intense and frightening,.
Unfortunately, it trails off and ends with somewhat of a whimper just as you're expecting an emphatic exclamation point to cap the peak of it's intensity. Even still, it's not enough of a damper to really affect the overall quality of the film, or take away from it's emotional effectiveness; so 'The Horror' stands as an intelligent thought-provoking thriller, representing a successful first entry for director Jerry J. White III, with a breakout performance from Raymond Creamer that will, hopefully, result in more opportunities for him to really flex his acting muscle.
Then head over to Twitter and shower praise on Mr. White for a job well done, here