Thursday, August 4, 2016

Fantasia 2016: "Shelley" Review by Tim Hellman

Fantasia 2016: 'SHELLEY': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Another entry in this year's 'Fantasia International Film Festival', is this psychological thriller flick; about a Danish couple, that live together in an isolated villa (in the forest), that really wants to have a child (but can't).  The wife makes a pact with their Romanian maid, for the maid to be the child's surrogate mother; but something sinister begins affecting the pregnancy, and everyone around it.  The film was directed by first time feature filmmaker Ali Abbasi, and it was written by Abbasi and Maren Louise Kaehne.  The movie stars Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Cosmina Stratan and Peter Christoffersen.  It's a well made, and haunting movie.

Louise (Petersen) and Kasper (Christoffersen) live in a remote villa, in the middle of the woods, away from technology and all modern ways of life.  They hire a Romanian maid, named Elena (Stratan); and Louise and Elena quickly become close.  Louise explains, to Elena, that she really wants to have a child, but can't.  She then offers to give the maid a lot of money, to carry a child for her.  Elena reluctantly agrees to the arrangement, but it soon becomes evident that the pregnancy is not normal; and something very dark (and unnatural) has possessed the baby growing inside of her.

The movie is really nicely directed; the mood and atmosphere, that the director creates, are perfectly creepy and disturbing.  The performances are all excellent, as well, especially the two female leads; and the characters are all likeable and relatable.  The film is effectively scary; without a true villain, or clichéd 'jump scares' and gimmicks!  With all of that said, I was still hoping for more from the movie's ending.  It's definitely a psychological thriller, that leaves a lot up to viewer interpretation.

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