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Resonance Movie Review

Written by Joanna K. Neilson

Released by Bayview Entertainment

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Written and directed by Siar Sedig
2019, 73 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 29th, 2019

Starring:
Max Croes as Max
Nastassia Firestone as Elena

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Review:

Max (Max Croes) and Elena (the wonderfully named Natassia Firestone) are a young couple who decide to reconnect with each other at a woodland retreat, driving – The Shining style – very far away from the rest of humanity. They end up at a cabin in the woods for their long-overdue vacation. We know that always ends well, right? So far, so-much a predictable horror-cliche – apart from their surprisingly lovely cabin, and what seems to be an extremely good Wi-Fi signal. This is not, it turns out, going to be The Evil Dead. And it doesn't have to be, but there's certainly something strange out there in the wilderness.

As Max and Elena snap photographs, cook tense romantic meals, and try not to loathe each other – and they really don't seem to even like each other – something unsettling and odd begins to prey on them both, pushing them to…well, not quite their very limits, to be honest.

Because what they discover out in the woods, as they take their photographs and fail to have chemistry, is a noisy, nosebleed-inducing hum that seems determined to drive them out of their minds. Or something. It could be industrial, or some great unknowable entity, but it clearly isn't a smart idea to stick around. And to be fair, they do act like rational human beings would – but of course, they realise it far too late to escape its effects.

And that's where the fun should start.

With that in mind, I had some hopes that this would deliver something really fresh and weird. The potential for a mysterious sound to be the enemy or monster in a film is a truly fascinating one and something that is so surreal and unexplainable is a truly interesting concept for a horror film.

Sadly, it becomes clear that the filmmakers just don't really have any idea what to do with it.

At least, not in a way to make it an interesting journey.

Like the woods that entrap Max and Elena, something terrifying lurks within this flick. Something out there is cold, scary and unknowable. Perhaps with a stronger cast, a better script and a greater, more insane ambition, this really could have been something uncanny. It's already a let down when the sound design of a film based around the 'resonance' itself makes it hard to hear the actors talking. And when they do speak, the dialogue is mostly cringeworthy or pointless.

And in the end, nothing that happens here really pays off.

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The bones of a great story are there, though. The angst between the couple is nicely drawn, although badly in need of a script doctor. The landscape of endless woodlands, and the sheer isolation that the couple faces, is beautifully set up. Even so, perhaps beautiful imagery can be taken for granted with the abilities of modern cameras. What really matters is making the characters and the story itself interesting enough to watch for 90 minutes. Sadly, Resonance doesn't manage this at all, ensuring that our 90 minutes with the couple feels more like a slog lasting for far too many hours. Something fantastic lies deep within this film, but like the woods, nothing is truly revealed and we're stuck there at least 50 minutes too long to justify how little ultimately happens.

With that in mind, it really would have worked better condensed into a fifteen or twenty minute short film with better dialogue.

Despite the lacklustre dialogue and the tedious pacing, Max Croes reveals potential to be a very interesting actor, His distinctive appearance and focussed behaviour – when the film momentarily leaps into action – makes the actor worth keeping an eye on. But he's let down by dull interactions with the only other character in the story, which takes forever to get anywhere at all.

While the potential for a noise to create the terror is definitely there, and this all feels constantly on the cusp of being interesting, it never gets anywhere. It doesn't have to explain the sound – in fact there's nothing duller than learning all about the mystery – but it does need to make the journey worth sticking with. The film simply lacks any energy and really bears comparison to similar movies, like Honeymoon, or more low-budget classics like Resolution and The Endless. These all manage to combine eldritch horror with interesting characters, while leaving just enough of the situation to the viewers' imaginations.

Sadly, Resonance doesn't quite pull off this balance at all. It's either too long, or it needed more to happen, or more characters to watch along the way.

In short, some films really can get away with almost nothing happening until the climax. Resonance just isn't one of them.

Sounded like a good idea, though.

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Grades:

Movie: 2.5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joanna K. Neilson
Staff Reviewer
Favourite film ever watched is Alien (1979), but usually prefers to ingest her horror with a dollop of comedy relief…though the dusty charm of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1971) and the black and white lure of Psycho (1960) continues to draw her in. Found Baskin weirdly hilarious. Finds Finding Nemo godawful. Adores H.P. Lovecraft and has sort-of pilgrimed to his grave in Providence - very tidy. Very long walk. Half-expected cats and cultists to be set up all around it but sadly, just signs saying ‘no photos’ in the cemetery.
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