By Roger Costa
After leaving a friend’s house party, driving a little tipsy, and finding trouble on the road, a couple and their baby checks in at a hotel, but what initially was meant to be a resting place turns into a physical nightmare as they are pervasively harassed by what seems to be a clan of ghosts.
Atmospheric, utterly chilling and mysterious, writer-director Kourosh Ahari crafts an enigmatic puzzle with elements borrowed from Kubrick and Polanski with brilliantly creepy results.
Subtly addressing prejudice over immigrants (they’re Iranians living in the US), child abuse and abduction, and police invasiveness, this electrifying slow burn presents hauntingly convincing performances while paving the way for a mind-bending climax.
Winner of 3 major awards at Molins Film Festival, including Best Director and Best Screenplay, it marks the rise of a committed filmmaker in the profitable era of the horror industry.
(IFC Midnight. 2/1. In Theaters and On Demand.)
A respected and award-winning Japanese filmmaker, Naomi Kawase enters the Oscar race for the Best International Film recognition with this fascinating and sensitive look at motherhood through the cosmovision of adoption. Gorgeously shot, superbly performed by fantastic women, realistic and touching, Kawase crafts a beautiful drama about the essence of living: finding the meaning of existence in the form of raising a child.
Immersive and exuberantly edited, it follows the desperation of a couple in pursuing the dream of bringing a child into the world. Their chance comes in the form of a specialized agency that finds the perfect baby for the approved couples. As they welcome their baby home, the film travels in time to explain how these lives are connected, following the other mothers of the title: the young biological mother who got pregnant at 14 and faces hierarchy, her mother and the duty of prudence, the woman at the agency who is basically a mother.
Revealing aspects of the importance of motherhood and mother’s love, and how a child enhances life, Kawase creates magnificently lyrical visual compositions with shots in nature (flowers, trees, cycling) to the tune of a lovely piano track.
Deeply investigative, melancholic, thoughtful and absorbing, she scores a highly efficient and moving moral tale.
(Film Movement. 2/1. In Virtual Cinemas.)