FLEE THE LIGHT ** Canada 2021 Dir: Alexandra Senza. 81 mins
Folk Horror is upon us opening up intriguing possibilities of story. Countries have their own stories even regions presenting a vast area with which to create. FLEE THE LIGHT (2021) from Canada by writer Jennifer Mancini and director Alexandra Senza is a slow burn story of two sisters, Andra (Annie Tuma) and Delfi (Ariana Marquis) who encounter an ageless demonic force in the darkness.
Andra is a psychology student who is accepted to a prestigious grad school. Delfi is the younger sister who is tired, confused, and prone to blanking out of reality such as when she is working her small retail job causing the customer to leave. She also has visions of a woman vanishing in a burst of colored light and smoke. A therapy session indicates the problems aren’t all in her mind, Delfi is sent to a spiritualist. A rift between the two sisters develops, Delfi wants to see them, Andra insists her sister needs real help and medication. The battle for the arcane knowledge versus the scientific world remains a plot point of most of this style of the film.
FLEE THE LIGHT (2021) takes a very low-key approach known as slow burn horror at an excruciating banal pace. The first part of the film is a journey of self-discovery as Delfi begins to realize the real nature of her problem and connects the visions to a remote location in the bush that we have seen in an oddly filmed prologue. The locus point for her discovery is the woman, Kata, (Jane Siberry) who’s low keep delivery and dispensing of facts follow with the film’s feel.
FLEE THE LIGHT (2021) suffers from not enough story in the opening half of the film compensated by cryptic clues, voice messages, and mysticism that are supposed to keep interested. The picture did not pull me in overshadowing earnest work by all the actors exposing pacing and lack of story. The scenes with the First Doctor are set up to be a link to send Delfi to the spiritual cure. The moment comes across as too fast in the moving letting a moment of character development for the Doctor and Delfi go used. The final act features some good effects, good physical action, and stunt work for a budget in terms of making up for the entity even if we must see the ubiquitous black C.G.I. smoke.
FLEE THE LIGHT (2021) tries hard to do what it does in terms of telling a story of ancient evil yet suffers from pounding mysticism, the slow-moving plot in the build-up to a demonic fury ending. The strong points are technical of this film with strong performances by all on-screen in spite of having nothing to say, they say it with conviction. The film is photographed well using the whole screen both background and foreground by Cinematographer Billy Buttery who does his best to move the images and is well-edit too bad the story did not follow the pace.
FLEE THE LIGHT (2021) is a film for those that perhaps have not seen many genre pictures casting it in the same light (no pun) as SLENDER MAN (2018) or the disappointingly too long cliché MALIGNANT (2021). One does not have to reinvent the wheel each time but understand what you are doing that Mysticism is part of the story, it is not the film.
Review by Terry Sherwood