ALL I NEED (2015)
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Despite being made about two years ago, low budget horror thriller is finally being released on VOD. It tells the story of a pretty young woman (Caitlin Stasey from All Cheerleaders Die and Fear Inc) who wakes up in a small room bound and gagged along with about a dozen or so other young women in the same predicament. Most of her fellow captives are either already dead, or soon to be, leading the young woman to engage in a battle of wills with her murderous captor in order to get out alive. The story also follows a down on his luck man named Andrew (Markus Taylor) who starts getting job offers from a mysterious benefactor. Can the fates of these two individuals be somehow intertwined?
Writer and director Dylan K. Narang, who produced the cool monster flick Dark Was The Night, will answer that question by the time this film reaches it’s conclusion and while it’s not a total surprise, Narang does provide some intensity and some disturbing sequences before the credits role. Most of that comes in the segments that follow Chloe (Stasey) in her efforts to stay alive and out of the masked killer’s clutches in a confined space. The resilient girl uses whatever resources are at her disposal, including the bonds and bodies of the other young women who have also fallen prey to this individual. When we switch to Andrew’s story, the film is less interesting and a bit flat as we have become far more endeared to the embattled Chloe and are less interested in his tale, though his story does connect. The writer/director smartly keeps the focus predominately on the bloodied and scantily clad prisoner and it is those scenes that carry some nice intensity and a few disturbing moments. Narang is also not afraid to have our heroine make some tough decisions during her escape attempts regarding her co-captors and even the use of their bodies. The film’s momentum sputters a bit with Andrew, especially one lengthy scene with his benefactor’s boss (Holly Twyford), that despite delivering some needed exposition, kinda drags a bit. Once this scene plays out, we do return to Chloe’s horrifying drama, though at that point we already have figured out how it’s going to conclude. The film does have effective atmosphere and that is helped along by an 80s-ish score by Jacob Yoffee and the fact that Narang does have a good visual eye and delivers some effective shots even working on an intimate scale.
The cast is very small and the strongest performance comes from the pretty Caitlin Stasey who endears us to her Chloe quickly with some expressive eye emoting while bound and gagged and then with body language and facial expressions when she is free and in survival mode. As she is alone most of the time, she has limited dialog and filmmaker Narang avoids having her talk to herself to fill us in on what she’s thinking. Instead he let’s his actress show us and she does a great job feeding us her fear and resilience without externalizing her inner monologue. She uses her body and eyes to good effect. Markus Taylor is a little flat as Andrew, though he’s not what I would call bad. The material involving his character is not as interesting or intense as Chloe’s terrifying ordeal, which doesn’t give the actor nearly as much to work with. Holly Twyford delvers some important exposition with a monotone delivery and while her character is supposed to be a bit emotionally detached, the revelations could have used a bit more dramatic bite to make them work better and a little more depth to the ‘explanation ‘ as to the hows and whys. As for our killer, he is masked for 99% of the flick and he does carry some menace and intensity, even though he isn’t on screen as much as you might expect. There are a couple of other girls we see briefly and they are all fine as victims.
Not a perfect flick by any means, but one that was effective in the places it needed to be most. Dylan K. Narang delivered some intense sequences with his young heroine fighting for her life and we only wish the secondary story of down on his luck divorcee Andrew carried the same type of weight. Seeing Chloe try to survive her situation and somehow escape was far more effective and interesting than Andrew puzzling over the mysterious offer from a faceless voice on the phone. Chloe made some hard decisions in her quest to survive, while we feel Andrew made his ultimate decision far too easy considering what the job proposal turned out to be. Director Narang does show some potential and Caitlin Stasey shows she is a young actress to also keep an eye on, especially in the horror genre, where she has recently been no stranger.
3 damsels in a lot of distress.