From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Thu Jul 28 22:19:51 2016
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
Warning: this film contains nudity, sex, and violence.
CAPSULE: A young woman is held prisoner in a fancy
house while she goes through what seems to be some
sort of a de-programming. She tests the tight limits
on her freedom and plans how to escape to the outer
world. Intercut with her present situation, we see
moments in Janie's past that slowly give clues to
how the situation we are seeing came about. As time
goes by the restrictions on Janie are first loosened
and then again tightened. The pace is a little slow,
but writer/director Ben Cresciman holds our attention.
Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
Some mystery films are "who-done-it's." SUN CHOKE is a mystery,
but it is more a "what's-going-on." We see through the eyes of
Janie (played by Sarah Hagan), fogged as her vision is. Janie is
being kept prisoner in a very nice upscale home, but she is being
put through what appears to be some sort of involuntary
psychological testing and a deprogramming. We know not for what.
The home that is Jamie's prison is sterile and decorated entirely
in white in all the rooms. The more time that Janie spends there
the more she is determined to escape, and she does not mind
dirtying those bright white walls a little along the way. Jamie's
revolt will lift her from this tidy, colorless background to a
place considerably more primal.
Janie's life is ruled over with quiet, well-ordered menace from her
therapist Irma (actually unnamed until the final credits). Irma
(icily played by Barbara Crampton) administers tests to Janie and psychoanalyzes her. The patient does not have a moment of real
freedom. Irma is sort of a New Age Nurse Ratched, so she and Jamie
have an adversarial relationship. Part of her regimen is feeding
Janie what look to be brightly colored but uninviting concoctions
from the blender--all part of some holistic treatment including
forced Yoga exercises and silly looking psychological tests. The
younger woman is compliant, but there are signs she will not be for
long. Part of Janie's rebellion is her revolt against the overly
pristine environment in which she is imprisoned. When the time
comes, Janie is allowed out of the house by herself. There she is
fascinated by nature with its color and even with earthworms
covered with dirt itself.
Something attracts Janie about one woman in particular she sees.
Janie becomes fascinated just to drive around and watch this other
women, Savannah (Sara Malakul Lane). The house just shouts Los
Angeles hills, though we are never told where the story takes
place. Ben Cresciman writes and directs his own film. The first
half of the film goes slowly, giving out a clue here and one there
for why what is happening is happening. Mathew Rudenberg provides
some disorienting effects showing psychological conditions in the cinematography.
Not all questions that the script raises will be answered, nor do
they need to be. We are given only hints of the back-story, but
the viewer is free to connect the dots any way he likes. This is a
short film at 83 minutes, but it is intense images are strong and
will stick with the viewer. I rate it a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale
or 7/10. The film will be released to general theaters on August