In the mid to late 90’s I watched quite a few films about growing up, being different, having the price $6.66 show up everywhere and being a girlie in a “man’s world” breaking out of the traditional mold society likes to poor us into. While Entrance is not exactly a film about growing up, being on the youth fringe and trying to find yourself in a world wholly alien… it actually is just about those exact subjects; it’s about questioning reality as it happens to you and what you let it do to you. I’m not sure that you’ll find it an experience that will assist you on your inner, personal journey if you’re young and lost, but it might help you to avoid one of the classic youth blunders: assuming that your the crazy one and the world ain’t out to get you. “Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you” – Nirvana. IFC Midnight’s new offering is a delicate dance between the strangeness you feel in the world and the strangeness in the world that wants to have its way with you.
Synopsis (from IFC Midnight to avoid spoilers):
ENTRANCE is a subtle psychological thriller centered upon Suzy (Suziey Block), a young woman in Los Angeles who can’t get comfortable in her own skin. She’s haunted by nostalgia, has no real friends, and finds herself wandering aimlessly through life in the city. Suzy now feels stuck, her part-time-turned-full-time job at a coffee house was never meant to be forever. With each day she finds it increasingly difficult to put on a smile for strangers while making their lattes. Her alienation begins to stretch into the deeper corners of her life. She comes to find herself unable to connect with anyone, let alone her roommate Karen, whose life Suzy wishes was her own.
Soon, what should be the simplest of everyday interactions twist and distort into the threatening. Suzy can’t shake the gnawing suspicion that a true menace grows just outside her field of vision. She falls hard out of love with the city, but it doesn’t want to let her go. When she scrambles to take control of her life, her anxiety rises to a fever pitch that boils over into awaking nightmare.
While Entrance isn’t a Greg Araki film and the level of introspection isn’t supposed to make you question your personal identity, your sexuality or even some of the “big questions” concerning the essence of being, it does offer a look at the personal relationship of an “fish out of water” in a strange environment. What does it mean to belong? How do you know if your experience of belonging or conversely the feeling of being isolated isn’t all in your head? One of the things I love most about this film is that you keep expecting the character to have an epiphany. You expect personal growth. Without spoiling, there is not personal revelation. No one is a unique snowflake in Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath’s journey into the dark side of the reality you see in front of you every day, the world you live in.
This novice cast puts on plays the slow burn card well. It’s well acted and Suziey Block shines, especially in the closing minutes of the picture. Entrance is fairly quiet, and I wouldn’t expect dialogue rich performances that leave you quoting your heart out. Where they exceed is in building tension. Block draws your sympathy early. The loner. An outcast or at least the feeling of the outcast. When a few out of the ordinary things happen to her and the whimpers begin you’ll feel sympathetic which is not an entirely easy feeling to have for the victim. By the end you’ll be chasing the credit to figure out who put on those fairly memorable performances.
The moments of tension build slowly. Entrance is like a balloon ready to burst by the last ten minutes of the film. It bursts which typically makes audiences feel relieved. When suspense breaks you feel like you can let the air out of your lungs to actually talk about the film… or scream if the filmmakers of done their job. Entrance offers no such luxury. Get ready to hold your breath all the way through the credits. Get ready to ask a lot of questions, none of which will be answered and this is clearly by design.
While I do not believe this to be intentional, the style of shooting seemed to offer a near Point of View perspective from our protagonist. You can really get into her shoes. The cinematography won’t leave you feeling overly enthused, but if you can take anything from the filming style, try to imagine yourself walking through this strange world. It’s the world you see every day, but you are not a part of it. You have to make sure the shadows are really shadows. The angles almost offer a feeling of claustrophobia and make looking to the Block’s perphery to find the baddies easier. There’s nothing supernatural about this picture. It’s all in your head and in the lens.
I’m going to recommend this one to the art house crowd who like the indy coming of age pictures of the 90’s because they’ll make you feel nostalgic. I’ll recommend this one to the folks that like realistic, nearly unfantastic portraits of terrifying reality. It’s a slow ride, but well worth the head on collision (which I hope to have carefully avoided while teasing you into watching). I watched it a second time to make sure I didn’t miss anything immediately after finishing. I didn’t. Make sure you check your blood pressure toward the end of the film. It’s brutal and have you yelling at the screen trying to help Ms. Block.
Note: Please enjoy the opening credit music as much as I did. I doubt there’s a soundtrack out there, but you might find it a nice edition to your alternative melancholy piano durges.
In Theaters and Available Nationwide on IFC Midnight Cable VOD and Digital Outlets (SundanceNOW, iTunes, Amazon Streaming, XBOX Zune, Playstation Unlimited) on May 18, 2012.