Friday, April 7, 2017

Don’t Watch This Alone: PANIC ROOM

Welcome to the another installment of DON'T WATCH THIS ALONE!, where we review the best, worst, and everything in between in the world of horror. This week we review the David Fincher home invasion thriller PANIC ROOM.

Panic Room is a 2002 home invasion thriller directed by highly acclaimed director David Fincher. The film centers around a mother and daughter who move into a new condo in New York with a high security “panic room” meant to keep them safe from invaders. Later that night their home is broken into and we learn there is more to the panic room than first meets the eye. The film stars Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, Patrick Bauchau, and Jared Leto.

Panic Room is definitely not Fincher’s strongest work. Not by a long shot. That said this is still a very compelling thriller with interesting characters, good acting, and a solid simple premise. The film often zagged into situations that were exceedingly over the top and convoluted, however, and there are moments in the film that are so bad they take you out of all the tension you felt earlier (or, at least one).

Beginning with the notable positives, I think the biggest strength is the brilliant direction and tension building throughout the film. It goes without saying that David Fincher is an incredibly skilled director. Over the course of his illustrious career he has crafted many thrillers with incredible amounts of well-developed tension. Panic Room is no exception. He knows exactly how to set up a situation and to systematically move through a series of steps that consistently sustains audience engagement throughout and has them glued to the screen. This is a wildly difficult thing to do and this pulls it off handily.

In addition to the incredible direction, the film has very interesting characters. The mother and daughter in the story don’t initially seem like they were anything special, but as the story unfolds you begin to understand their relationship and the caretaking position the mother is in. This is incredibly impactful and gave both Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart a lot of characterization to chew on as they deliver two incredibly solid performances.

This is a pretty unique home invasion thriller, however, because it also gives solid time and characterization to the villains in the story. Forest Whitaker and Jared Leto, in particular, deliver impeccable performances and make you sympathize with them even when they do awful things to our protagonists. This is a powerful thing for a film like this to do and certainly elevates it above most of its competition.

Finally, the central conceit for the film is really incredibly laid out an executed. Fincher uses such a simple tool with this panic room in the house to create incredible thrills and drama. By playing out consistent counter-narratives between people inside the panic room and people outside, there is always this interesting push and pull that makes the film very exciting to watch. Sometimes films are complicated and successful as a result, but the genius of Panic Room is that it is ultimately a very small movie that delivers big emotions because it is has a very intelligently constructed foundation.

Panic Room has some notable issues, however. It shifts the story in odd ways that almost feel like they’re meant to manufacture drama rather than let it out naturally. There is some weird argumentation between the invaders, for example, that just felt like it was from a totally different movie. Further, the film eventually introduces some external factors that expand the story and every time this happened the film was worse.

Additionally, there is one scene (and arguably a second) that is so laughably terrible it totally removes you from the film. Neither is a result of the story or performance, but both are several steps more absurd than the premise for this movie can bear. One is also coupled with unbelievably bad CGI that left me questioning how a perfectionist like David Fincher could ever have ok’d it.

Overall, I think Panic Room is a good movie that shows the skills of a masterful director. It is lesser in the scope of his entire filmography, however, as it is one of the few films that has awful moments coupled with the exceedingly successful setup overall.

Ryan’s Score: 7.5/10

Make sure to check us out and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all of our reviews, news, trailers, and much, much more!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment