MPAA Rating: R
Director: Amelia Moses
Starring: Lauren Beatty, Greg Bryk, Katherine King So
Runtime: 1h 24 mins
What It Is: Grey (Beatty) is an up-and-coming indie folk singer looking for a producer to help her drop her second album. Juggling between spending time with her loving partner, struggling with artist’s block, and fighting some strange schizophrenic instincts in which she eats things raw, she decides to work with an eccentric producer notorious for a scandal in which his previous client was murdered. She and her partner stay with him at his mansion to record the album only to find the experience transformative in a more disturbing direction.
What We Think: I’ll just preface by saying Lauren Beatty is rocking it. It’s always exciting to see a new face in the indie film community making such a killing, it seems to be a big year for her as she also had another film release with her in one of the starring roles. Moving forward I hope the roles she takes on continue to be more and more enthralling as I read massive potential in her talents. That goes for Katherine King So as well: though I haven’t seen her in anything else previously, she brought a memorable warmth and intelligence to a supporting role in which a lesser performer could have easily been forgotten in.
That being said this film was well made and not too far of a stone’s throw away from this year’s release Bleed With Me (I’m going to push for a third movie with a blood-themed title starring Beatty) or even Kolsch and Widmyer’s 2014 horror standout Starry Eyes. In concept, what this film could have been would be something as self-aware, campy, and epic in that origin-story feel like Starry Eyes even Teeth 2007, but what resulted was a very understated film about a woman struggling with her art with simple Kafka mechanics. It is a very simple film in plot and in character, namely in Bryk’s role as he just seems to serve as the “near-omniscient creepy guiding force who is obviously evil and up to no good.” There was little depth to be had here, which, had it been more interesting, entertaining, or even at all scary, then I wouldn’t bat an eye at all to whatever “depth” was missing. Unfortunately in this case, there is little merit to watching other than passing the time or seeing if there is at all any twist to what main character Grey’s mysteriously destructive deal is, to which there isn’t much of any payoff after so much time is spent on the buildup. As simple as its thematic elements are it is solidly-shot, for the most part, I enjoyed Beatty and So’s contributions, and I was also impressed by how good the original songs are considering the movie centering around a singer’s blooming musical career. The singles sounded real and well-produced; perhaps something akin to what you might hear on an alternative radio station, so I was pretty satisfied with their legitimacy here.
Our Grade: C-, It’s not really at all a horror film or a scary flick. The more fantastical elements actually took away from the character’s main story, which is to be a successful artist and to feel satiated by her expressive output. The core motivations of the characters themselves are far more interesting, so it was a shame to see them sort of taking a backseat for some light special effects and buildup around predictable, tired story mechanisms in order to push some spookiness (tis the season to profit). In spite of its lasting impression being its many shortcomings, I do look forward to whatever the filmmakers and cast have in the future as I do see the potential for growth–perhaps all is needed is a better story to start from.