While visiting his mother (Fiona Shaw – from television’s The Handmaid’s Tale), Ben (Edward Holcroft – Kingsman: The Secret Service, Vampire Academy) and his pregnant girlfriend Charlotte (Tamara Lawrence – On Chesil Beach) tell her that they are moving to Australia. She is less than thrilled with the news saying that he cannot abandon her, his family and the family house.
Soon afterwards, while working with a horse, an accident happens and Ben is dead. Charlotte is overcome with grief. The next thing she knows she wakes up in Margaret’s crumbling manor. She and Ben’s stepbrother, Thomas (Jack Lowden – Fighting With My Family, Dunkirk) say that she is not well, has no house to go back to and that she should stay with them until the baby is born. Seemingly against her better judgment Charlotte decides to stay with them.
As one day melts into the next, Charlotte becomes more and more disturbed. She is having visions. Disturbing ones. It also become apparent that Margaret and Thomas are not letting her leave. She is their prisoner in that big house. She tries to escape, but is unsuccessful.At least the first time, later she is successful…or so she thinks.
Charlotte wakes up in the hospital. She thinks this is her chance to escape from Ben’s family. But the vulnerable mother-to-be realizes that even there they are in control.
First feature film for director Joe Marcantonio and he shows that despite the fact that he does not have much experience he sure knows how to create an atmosphere. Front to back this one is dark and creepy. Creating a sense akin to not being able to see your feet in the bottom of the pool. As such you are tense throughout the 90 minutes of the film.
Lead actress Tamara Lawrence and the excellent Fiona Shaw both turn in strong performances. They have plenty of scenes together. Go head to head plenty. Each does their best to add nuance and context to their characters. Especially Shaw, who could have put forth a one dimensional Margaret.
That is the good part. The rest of the aspects of the film are not quite this strong. It tries to live up to the standards set by films like the recent Get Out and an older film like Rosemary’s Baby. Unfortunately it is awash in stereotypes. Too much of the usual and way too much of restrictive gender roles. Plus a refusal to take the opportunity to make comments on class and race. Issues which are sitting there in front of our noses, but not addressed. All this bad washes out all the good things going on here.