The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Arrow] - THRESHOLD | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Arrow] - THRESHOLD

threshold movie 2020 review
When a troubled young woman claims to be manipulated by a cult, her brother reluctantly agrees to help investigate her story.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Powell Robinson, Patrick R Young

Starring: Joey Millin, Madison West, Daniel Abraham Stevens

threshold movie 2020 poster

Traditional "How-to" guides to low budget filmmaking will advise you to confine your story to a single location. In the last decade, such an idea has become old hat, thanks to the ability to shoot a decent looking movie with your phone. Add in locations that can be easily snared for a couple of days through services like AirBnB, and today's guerilla filmmakers can easily broaden their horizons and add scope to movies bound by the most limited of budgets.

Powell Robinson and Patrick R Young's Threshold is a perfect example of what can now be achieved with a budget that wouldn't cover a day's lunch menu on a Hollywood production. Shot on a pair of iPhones with a crew of just three, Threshold takes advantage of a filmmaker's greatest weapon, a pair of talented performers, to spin a horror tale that doubles as an affecting look at the bonds between siblings.

threshold movie 2020 review

Leo (Joey Millin) hasn't seen or spoken to his sister Virginia (Madison West, who could be mistaken for a sister of Greta Gerwig in both her looks and demeanour) for over three years when he receives a phone call from their mother, who has discovered her estranged daughter's current location. Dealing with a messy divorce and reluctant to add more trouble to his life, Leo is guilt-tripped by his Mom into retrieving Virginia.

He finds his sis seemingly in the middle of a seizure, which he presumes is a reaction to a withdrawal from whatever drugs she's currently using. Virginia claims she's been clean for the past eight months and tells him a crazy story about how she hooked up with a cult who got her off drugs. The downside is that the cult wanted to ensure she could never leave their grasp, and so they performed a ritual that resulted in her being "bonded" with a male from their group. This means that Virginia and the mysterious man share each other's experiences. If Virginia feels pain, so does he. If he masturbates, she orgasms. If he shoots up, Virginia gets high.

threshold movie 2020 review

Virginia insists that her only hope is to track down this man. To send him a message, she scrawls the words "Where are you?" in blood on her arm, and he replies with a set of coordinates. Figuring it might be best to humour Virginia and keep her straight for a few days, Leo agrees to take her to the mystery location, several days' drive away.

For much of its running time, it's easy to forget Threshold's supernatural setup as it becomes a well fashioned two person character study. We spend most of the movie simply hanging out with Leo and Virginia, getting to know them as they similarly reacquaint themselves. They shoot the shit on long drives, reminisce about simpler times, and ponder where they might have gone wrong in their life choices. When they ease back into their relationship they regress to their youthful bonds, carving pumpkins, singing karaoke, shoplifting and messing around with a Ouija board. Millin and West have a charming chemistry, and the absence of any romantic "Will they, won't they?" questions allow us to settle into enjoying two people reaffirming familial bonds that have been heavily tested in recent times.

threshold movie 2020 review

Instead, the question we find ourselves asking here is whether or not the cult really exists. Perhaps Virginia is making this all up, faking the convulsions she claims are caused by her psychic partner's drug use rather than her own substance abuse. When Leo arrived at her apartment he saw a figure in a red cloak rush past him, but it is Halloween after all, so maybe it was just someone in fancy dress. Leo begins to claim to believe his sister's story, but maybe he's kidding himself too. Maybe he just needs some time away from his life, which hasn't gone the way he had imagined. Maybe a few days chasing some imaginary evil is better than confronting reality.

Threshold keeps us guessing right up to its conclusion, by which point we've grown so fond of Leo and Virginia that we'd be willing to accept any explanation for the latter's behaviour. Using limited means, Robinson and Young have crafted an engaging horror story that focusses on the one element so often overlooked by low budget practitioners of the genre – the people at its centre. Just as the best westerns aren't about the shootout at the end, but rather the horseback ride to get there, Threshold may be heading to a horrific conclusion, but it's the two people we get to know along the way that make it work.

 is on Arrow from May 3rd.

2021 movie reviews