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'Entrance' Movie Review

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

By

'Entrance' movie poster
© IFC Midnight
There seems to be a growing movement of "indie drama horror" -- films, by directors like Ti West (The House of the Devil), Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die), Simon Rumley (Red White & Blue) and Ben Wheatley (Kill List), that have the sedated, unassuming, gritty feel of an indie drama (and for two-thirds of the running time, might fool you into thinking that's what they are) but that at some point turn a dark corner into shocking horror. The latest example is Entrance, a film that takes such an abrupt turn that it might alienate both those expecting an indie drama and those expecting a genre pic.

The Plot

Suzy (Suziey Block) is a 20-something waitress in Los Angeles (if there is such a thing; I was under the impression they're all actors) who's going through the day-to-day drudgery of life in a big city, feeling isolated with few job prospects and even fewer romantic prospects. She lives with her roommate Karen (Karen Gorham) and a dog and has no working car -- a sin for anyone who wants to get anything done in LA. She spends every day going through the same routine: wake, wash, work, rinse, repeat.

Occasionally, Suzy feels menaced, but not necessarily anything out of the ordinary for a single woman: unwanted advances from men, the sound of the house settling in the middle of the night. However, events start to get increasingly creepy and unexplained: a car seems to follow her while she's walking home, her dog mysteriously vanishes. It's enough to push her over the edge, and she makes up her mind to move back to Michigan. On one of Suzy's last nights in town, she and Karen throw a going-away party at their house with several friends, but someone has other plans. It turns out that Suzy's paranoia was warranted, and someone will do anything to prevent her from leaving LA.

The End Result

Suziey Block in 'Entrance'.

Suziey Block in 'Entrance'.

© IFC Midnight
To say Entrance is a slow-burner is like saying LA is sunny. It revs up to two miles per hour and pretty much stays there for the first 60 minutes of the 80-minute film. Scene after scene reinforces Suzy's repetitious, mundane, soul-crushing lifestyle, and while it's effective in that aim, it also makes viewers long to bail before the movie's climactic moments -- which would be a shame, because it's a tense, grim finale realistically lensed with long, continuous, single-take shots (I noticed only one cut in the last 15 or so minutes.).

It's a chilling ending that's unfortunately undermined by several things: 1) the trailer reveals perhaps the most effective moment in the entire feature, and while I wouldn't call it a spoiler in the sense that it gives away a major twist, it certainly diminishes the impact of what is a jarring about-face in the tone and pace of the film; 2) in a movie that wallows in a heightened sense of realism, one moment during the climactic sequence plays like an homage to the decidedly unrealistic Friday the 13th, making for unintentional comedy; 3) the build-up is SO long and SO uneventful that we detach ourselves from the story altogether; and 4) the film focuses so much on hyper-realistic superficial human interaction that the characters come off as dull and unworthy of the emotional attachment necessary to make the climax as powerful as it should be.

That said, fans of Ti West's deliberately paced style of horror might find plenty to chew on in Entrance, but as slow as his films can be, they do a superior job at maintaining viewer interest during the extended ramp-up by building an intriguing storyline or heaping on layers of foreboding atmosphere. Entrance struggles to do either for extended periods. The plot is minimal, the seemingly ad-libbed dialogue is inconsequential and scene after scene plays out with no perceptible action or plot advancement, diminishing any sense of anticipation the movie has built.

For the record, I'm all for slow burn. I've liked (not loved) West's films, and I find Entrance admirable in its attempt to run contrary to the demands of an instant-gratification, short-attention-span generation. I just think it would've worked better as a 30-minute short. Even chopping off 15 or so minutes of build-up would've helped avoid losing the audience's sense of investment -- only to then ask them to jump back in in the final scene (and when they start to become involved again, ironically, the movie abruptly ends).

But writer-directors Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath -- the latter in a marked departure from his previous zombie comedy DIEner -- are nonetheless a duo worth keeping an eye on. Entrance is intelligent, perceptive and uniquely understated in a landscape of over-the-top exploitation, and it successfully portrays the isolation of big city life and the apprehension/paranoia of being a single woman in a violent world. It will be interesting to see where Hallam and Horvath go from here.

The Skinny

  • Acting: C (Appropriately realistic performances -- perhaps too much so, as they come off as bland.)
  • Direction: B- (A gritty, refreshingly restrained indie style.)
  • Script: C- (Too much overly ad-libbed, talky buildup before the payoff.)
  • Gore/Effects: C+ (Modest, realistic gore.)
  • Overall: C (Fresh and smart, but more admirable than enjoyable.)

Entrance is directed by Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: May 18, 2012 (in theaters and on demand).

Disclosure: The distributor provided free access to this movie for review purposes. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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