Review: Threshold

Co-directed by Powell Robinson and writer Patrick Robert Young, following a sister, claiming to be cursed, as she persuades her brother to embark on a cross country road trip to break her spell. Starring: Joey Millin, Madison West, Nadine Sondej-Robinson, Daniel Abraham Stevens and John Terrell.

If you’re expecting more of an exorcism or intensely supernatural story, this might not be for you or to enjoy it more you might want to scale those expectations back. This story is much more about estranged sibling relationships, trust and forgiveness. Virginia’s drug addled past causes her brother Leo to sincerely question her behaviour and struggle to believe her outlandish story, instead choosing to believe that it’s all part of another relapse. While it is far from the first horror to take on a dramatic side, it basically takes over the entire atmosphere of the film and the few sporadic moments that flavour the cursed side to this story, aren’t enough to maintain enough suspense or tension. It’s a shame that the progression of the story isn’t more well balanced to create something satisfying, it leaves almost everything to the last minute and nearly defeats the entire purpose of its story. There is something there, there’s a good dynamic between these siblings and it has a solid message about family relationships and how easily they can be pushed aside but it needed to either embrace the horror and mystery more, or stick to drama. As it stands the moments that explore its sinister side feel completely secondary.

Robinson and Young’s direction feels very classically American indie, handheld and unpolished, much more of an in the moment style rather than overly constructed. It feels open to the opportunity of injecting more of a dark edge but it never quite gets there. The editing for the most part does help to add a sharpness to the film but it also stumbles into a few clumsy or jarring cuts from time to time. A more unusual issue here is the sound work, it’s far too clean and feels very dubbed, it takes away from the tension in that it doesn’t feel real, it’s eradicated too much of the ambient noise to use the influence of its settings. In the larger picture, the style does feel like it had the right idea but the pace and progression of the story don’t back it up.

Joey Millin and Madison West make a great pair, they’re easy to watch and build a convincing and interesting relationship. For the most part they’re operating on a fairly minimal level of emotion so the roles aren’t asking too much of them but in the moments where they have to break out more, the performances are just as solid. In that respect, it’s another shame that they weren’t given a chance to push their skills a little more. Given that the story moves quite slowly and the focus is so strongly on them, they hold that weight extremely well.

Threshold sadly starts something that it can’t finish. It delves so far into the drama that the horror and mystery fades too far into the background and when it tries to bring back that energy, it’s far too late for it to really benefit. Millin and West give great performances as siblings rediscovering their lost relationship but it’s not enough to push the film further. The directorial style held the potential for something much darker, satisfying and sinister but it missed the mark.

Verdict: ✯✯

Available now on Arrow

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