Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"What was presumably intended to inspire fear, or at least disgust, just comes off as slightly unpleasant."

The opening scenes of this Turkish-made take on the American horror film have a certain eloquence. A red-haired girl gazes wistfully out to sea. Long-haired cats slink past her. Behind them, up on the balcony of a tall mansion house, a neatly dressed middle-aged woman calls out to her. What is the girl looking for? Why is the woman anxious? These are questions that could take us somewhere interesting. In fact, they take us nowhere at all.

Lutfu Emre Cicek's debut film is so confused that, for large portions of its running time, it's impossible to tell who is doing what to whom or in what order things are supposed to have happened. The eponymous central character - the woman on the balcony, played by Derya Alabora - is the one constant. She loves the house; it's the centre of her world. Even though she is apparently no longer its owner and it is being rented out, she persists in living there. She's a houseproud woman, keeping everything spick and span, carefully mopping up the blood after having to deal with another intruder.

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Esin Harvey plays Bengi, a pregnant woman with a secret lover, whose partner surprises her by renting the contested house. As he tries to fix the place up, she explores, becoming convinced that there has been a mistake, that someone else is living there. Then Naciye comes to the door.

There is little more here that resembles a plot. What we do see could be interpreted in a number of ways, but it's not an intriguing ambiguity, it's just a mess. The girl, whom we glimpse again, is good. Alabora, who has previously demonstrated her talent in films like A Most Wanted Man, is watchable - even entertaining in her employment of a tradition Turkish soap opera style - but can only do so much with the wayward script. There's a sex scene that's daring by mainstream Turkish standards and there are some scenes of gore which may make an impression on those not used to hardcore horror, but nothing new. What was presumably intended to inspire fear, or at least disgust, just comes off as slightly unpleasant.

Compounding all this, the film is abysmally badly lit; Cicek can do pretty things with daylight but outside that space even a real building comes to resemble a cheap cardboard set. The music, which starts off doing interesting things with Turkish themes, soon descends into the kind of repetitive, distracting noise common to low budget genre films made in the West. The irony of it all is the Cicek has copied the American form too well - he just ought not to have based his designs on the poorer end of straight-to-VOD.

Reviewed on: 17 Oct 2015
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A middle-aged woman takes umbrage at the presence of strangers in what she still considers to be her home.

Director: Lutfu Emre Cicek

Writer: Lutfu Emre Cicek

Starring: Derya Alabora, Esin Harvey, Gorkem Mertsoz

Year: 2015

Runtime: 81 minutes

Country: Turkey


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