Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Willet is impressive all round and one hopes that this release will raise her profile."

Previously at Eye For Film, we've addressed the subject of moving house in horror films and how it's usually a bad idea. Now imagine you've moved into the middle of the woods, and you have a neighbour who randomly fires a gun in the grounds of your house, and when you talk to said neighbour he points the gun at you and tells you to back off, and then your husband tells you not to bother the police about it. Imagine that you wake up at night to find that another man has broken into your home, and he grabs you, and after you manage to drive him off your husband tells you not to bother the police about it. Would you stay in that house? Would you stay with that man? Would you want to stay in that film?

This is the predicament in which Carrie (Tracy Willet) finds herself. She's a composer working on a horror film score whilst her husband, a scientist, commutes to and from his lab with two other scientists who have such a smooth, practised kind of charm that it almost gives off Stepford vibes. Carrie is about to make a discovery that will throw everything she thought she knew about her life into a new light. Those disturbing incidents were just the tip of the iceberg, and what she learns, whilst it solves some mysteries, raises more urgent questions and plunges her into a battle for survival.

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Animosity was made as a student film in 2013 and made an appearance at Fantasia the following year. It's enjoying a proper release now thanks to the success of director Brendan Steere's inimitable second film The Velocipastor. Tonally, the two could not be more different, so fans of that film hoping for a second bite would be better off waiting for the hotly rumoured sequel. If you appreciate Steere's style, however, and are interested in seeing what he can do when not purposefully trying to conceal his talent, you'll find quite a bit to enjoy here. It may have been made on a very low budget (the main casualty of which is the lighting, with some scenes difficult to make out), but the acting is decent and there are some seriously creepy sequences in the first half. Even before we get to the point where Carrie is sneaking around dangerous places in the dark, Steere's offbeat framing choices and use of close-ups create a certain discomfort, keeping us wondering about what might be just out of view.

Willet's career has since focused heavily on voice acting, and she makes good use of her vocal talents here as the emotional centre of the film, but she's impressive all round and one hopes that this release will raise her profile. Supporting characters are not as well developed, which is excusable in some cases and less so in others. One gets the sense that the script went through a lot of rewrites, with internal character logic getting lost in the process. Carrie's experience seems to be part of a much bigger set of happenings of which we learn little. There are interesting themes around possessive love and losing sight of others' humanity within relationships, but in the end the whole thing feels rather mangled and falls short of the mark. It has enough going on to make it more interesting than the average indie horror film, but it doesn't cohere well enough to satisfy. What it does do is confirm that Steere has a talent worth keeping an eye on.

Reviewed on: 17 Jul 2021
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Animosity packshot
A newlywed couple moves into a house in the middle of woods only to discover that the surrounding forest is host to sinister supernatural powers which turn them against each other.
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Director: Brendan Steere

Writer: Brendan Steere

Starring: Stephan Goldbach, Michelle Jones, Alyssa Kempinski, Tom Martin, Thea McCartan

Year: 2013

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: US


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