The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - DISTORTED | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - DISTORTED

distorted movie review
A painter fears her mind is being controlled by a sinister force in her high-tech apartment complex.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Rob W. King

Starring: Christina Ricci, Brendan Fletcher, John Cusack, Vicellous Shannon, Nicole Anthony

distorted movie poster

Poor painter Lauren (Christina Ricci) is suffering nightmares.

When husband Russell (Brendan Fletcher) comes home to see her sad and afraid, having recently woken from her bad dreams, he tells her "everything is fine, you're safe here."

But apparently that assurance wasn't quite enough, as straight after the credits we follow Russell and Lauren to inspect a new home in a large complex called The Pinnacle.

They learn that it's huge, expensive, expansive and very safe.

She says "no one should live this way," and wants time to think about it so they return to their drab grey home with its creepy sad clown paintings (and she wonders why she's having nightmares!).

distorted movie review

Flashbacks are the word of the day with even a simple bath causing Lauren's nightmares to re-occur; in this case they are related to a seminal moment in her past, which is mostly explained near the end of the film.

"Let's do this," she finally tells Russell, but as she explains to her therapist, she is still scared and embarrassed by the ostentatiousness of the new home.

Before you know it, they've moved in, and they attend an elegant pool party (if only all house moves were that painless) where Lauren is taken under the wing of her new found friend Margo, who gives her whispered summaries of every attendee.

They settle into life in their luxurious fortress of safety; Lauren preoccupied with googling adoptions and hanging up her sad clown paintings in the new home while distracted by subliminal words across her television screen. Russell, consumed with work, is oblivious to his wife's new struggles.

distorted movie review

Lauren becomes convinced a neighbour is stalking their home from inside the apartment building and this feeds into her distrust of the new surroundings.

Her suggestion to Russell that perhaps the building is some sort of experiment using subliminal messages is met with exasperation and fear that "it's happening again," but she finds an ally in a man she befriends in an online chat room about mind control.

When the ally finally agrees to meet her he tells her she's not paranoid and gives her a phone to use so they can be in contact. The man is played by John Cusack, who's as watchable as ever in a small, thankless but influential role as Vernon, the 'useful conspiracy theorist' that so often populates these kinds of films to provide 'research' and exposition.

Vernon helps Lauren uncover more secrets about The Pinnacle and its mysterious founder, Lance Geyer. Meanwhile Russell struggles to help his bipolar wife during what seems to him to be manifestations of her disease.

Is it mental health and paranoia causing these visions and thoughts? Or could Lauren and Vernon be onto something more sinister?

distorted movie review

This is a fairly standard thriller by writer Arne Olsen, slightly elevated by a more well known cast than expected in such pedestrian fare. Ricci and Cusack barely stretch their legs here and you can't help but feel that they (especially Cusack) are really sort of above this generic stuff by now. Nevertheless, it's inoffensive and strangely watchable, and the mental health theme is managed in a fairly responsible manner.

It's interestingly directed by Rob W. King (the framing work appeals) and brightly lensed, and some shots are better than they have any reason to be. The use of the classic song 'Beautiful Dreamer' is also both occasionally creepy and nostalgic.

This could have been better but it could have been worse; overall it's middle of the road baby!

Distorted is on VOD February 4th.

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