The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
This film came to me with a description as a “contemporary Hitchcockian thriller,” so I immediately jumped at the opportunity to see it. As a self-proclaimed Hitchcock fanatic, I am always excited to see the Master’s influence on cinema continue into modern films. Also, because I recently binged all of Succession on HBO and I noticed Brian Cox was part of the cast--I was confident it had to be worthy of my time!
Paula van der Oest directs this thriller with full confidence, starting off strong and refusing to let up. There is zero time for a lull or slow burn. As the story progresses, her direction clearly intertwines the audience deeper into the confusion by using slightly canted angles and quick cuts, divulging that this story is twisted and you should be ready to keep up. The pace is perfect for the thriller genre, and if you blink or look down at your phone--you may miss some important information. She demands your attention be focused on the screen and the story and makes sure she ties up loose plot lines and keeps visual promises by revisiting them with explanation.
Rosalind (Olga Kurlenko) is a widowed photographer who finds herself madly in love with Will (Claes Bang); the couple, hot and heavy from the start, quickly find themselves married and settling down with a baby on the way. After a traumatic accident, Ros gives birth to their baby boy early--and she is never the same after this event. As she completely mentally spirals out of control, she puts her entire family at risk. Her past will haunt her new husband Will, as he tries to piece together the reasoning for all of this; all the while he is attempting to protect her from the consequences of her actions. Fast-paced and confusing, this story will take you on a puzzling but fulfilling ride.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Three strong performances from the leads: Claes Bang (Will), Olga Kurylenko (Rosalind), and Brian Cox (Milton). Although the characters find their footing and deliver, there is hardly time for the audience to develop a meaningful connection with any of its main or supporting characters, so this is where it falls short just a bit. The audience will more so desire discovering and uncovering the mystery at the center of the plot rather than resolution for the characters. Every line of dialogue has meaning to it and serves the plot, carrying the story forward.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
...An Excellent Beginning For Any Promising Filmmaker
The use of a dutch/canted angle, if done well, can be extremely defining for a moment in the development of the story. There was a slight dutch angle on a vast amount of shots, and although overall this was effective, it may have been a bit of overkill. However, some audiences might not even notice this slight shift, because in some scenes it was so minimal that it was hardly noticeable. There are a few scenes in a photo dark room that engulf the screen with a hot red color, beautifully done. Otherwise, there was nothing extremely memorable. The settings of most scenes are gorgeous: the coast in Italy being one of those locations. It would be unfair for me to mention that the addition of the twin girls does not add an extra layer of creepiness to the overall feel (we can always thank The Shining for this, right?), because their presence totally does just that.
The Bay of Silence (2020) | VOD
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score does a fine job at setting the ambience for this genre of film, but it does nothing above and beyond that. There are no builds of tension that result in cheap jump scares, so it definitely gets extra points for not doing that and not lessening its value.
To label a film as “Hitchcockian” creates expectations that are super high, with a ton of added weight and pressure. While some small elements of the plot could be considerably compared to some Hitchcock films, I would not say this is particularly in the same realm as a Hitchcock thriller, although it delivers on its own for a suspenseful watch. At a runtime of about 90ish minutes, it is a perfect length for easy consumption that will have you trying to piece everything together to make sense of it all in the end. This film will absolutely scratch that itch for a suspenseful thriller.