Among Us (2017) - Dread Central
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Among Us (2017)



Starring Mark Diconzo, Katie Morrison and Elena Sanz

Directed by Gary King

There may be no kind of film harder to evaluate than an uneven one. Bad movies are easy, good ones might be easier still, but uneven films constitute a unique challenge every time. One must stretch the mind a bit more while picking the bones of these unfortunate pieces of art. Take greater care in the dissection of such motley corpses. They are often woven together out of both flashes of brilliance and stunning lapses in judgement. When trying to understand why the strongest patches are bound so tight and why the weakest fray so obviously one must examine the fabric itself. Must ask after the skill of the weavers and the consider the manner in which they wove. Finally, one must test the tenor of each mercurial strand of thought to find the ones that ring true and those that feel false to the mind. Yes, uneven films are a challenge but, if one is determined enough, they can offer almost as much sustenance as their counterparts.

Among Us is an uneven film. This tale of two former parents haunted by a presence that seeks to take everything from them abounds with promises both kept and broken. It takes the viewer on a trip through oppressive darkness across rocky, broken ground. It will bring you maddeningly close to the brink only to leave you hanging, disconcerted, on the edge. Maybe the best thing that can be said about this film is that it will definitely make you feel many things but, unfortunately, the strongest might just be frustration.

Writer/director Gary King obviously sought to make a quiet, personal piece about loss and regret. I think he ultimately managed to do so. One of the strengths of Among Us is the way in which it deals with grief and how it can cling to you like a stain that won’t come out. The entity that pursues them and tortures them is destroying their lives by taking that which they hold most dear and driving them to madness before turning them against one another. It has been playing with them, like a cat after a mouse, and when it’s had it’s fill of fun it will devour whatever pieces remain. This ever looming danger is another thing King was able to convey quite efficiently. There is a malaise here that will surely leave its mark.

Sadly, this effective part of the narrative is undercut by performances that leave much to be desired. For a film that only has three major players this is a problem. With so much of the film’s ponderous plot being shouldered by so few every stumble resonates all the more loudly. Mark Diconzo, thankfully, plays the part of gruff, guilt-ridden husband Frank with an appropriate amount of dark mystery with just enough emotional turmoil showing through to allow him to remain sympathetic. He broods as well as anyone but never forgets that, without context, brooding means nothing. There is pain in his eyes that bubbles out and bleeds down his face.

Katie Morrison as his wife Mallory, however, doesn’t rise to meet the challenge of his nuanced performance giving one of her own that ranges wildly between believable and hilariously over-the-top. There are times when you will almost be convinced of her personal torment only to be brought back to reality when she takes it too far and undercuts all the work she did drawing you in. I was severely disappointed by this because I believe, had she been restrained correctly in these moments, this would have been a much, much stronger film.

Rounding out the cast is the ex-paranormal investigator the couple calls upon to help them with their problem, Eleanor, played by Elena Sanz. Sanz’s performance is the most confounding. She is an undeniably magnetic performer who’s frequent half-smiles bring to mind the smoky allure of a young Holly Hunter. Her charisma oozes off the screen but many times in the film she takes the same leap into unbelievability as her co-star Katie Morrison. While I think the bulk of the mistakes that Morrison made to be the result of unhoned talent, I think in Sanz’s case the fault might lie in bad direction. She seems too strong a performer to be as bad as she comes off in some of her scenes.

This brings us back to Gary King. He may have succeeded in delivering the major themes but he did so with little subtlety or grace and, as a result, stumbles over the finish line. There are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through and confusing lore with inconsistent rules. He also had a problem properly realizing the threat of the film’s antagonist. He manages to bring genuine terror more than a few times to the invisible monster that plagues the heroes, but for every scene that fills you with dread he will match it with one that merely confounds. With a tighter script and clearer vision I believe he could have delivered something really special.

Ultimately, Among Us is a forgettable film. While it’s strengths can’t be denied it is the weaknesses that leave the lasting impression. Most viewers will walk away frustrated and annoyed with only those souls who take meticulous pleasure in deconstruction finding any satisfaction in it. If one doesn’t mind wading through the dross, however, there is hope to be found. Hope that Katie Morrison will learn how to trust her better instincts and hone the exceptional parts of her talent. Hope that Elena Sanz will find better guidance in order to more adequately draw from her fount of magnetic charm. Finally, hope that maybe next time Gary King will find better footing as well as more even ground to trod upon.


  • Film
User Rating 3 (8 votes)





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