Directed by Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath
Building suspense in a horror film that is both believable and attention-grabbing is difficult. Ignoring jump scares and visceral horror, a slow-burn thriller requires a deft hand, one that has the experience and the innate ability to get across its specific vision of fear to the viewer. The few who manage to get it right notwithstanding, the bulk of these independent films fail to live up to their intentions; IFC’s Entrance, directed by Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath, makes valid attempts at doing so, but never manages to live up to its intended premise.
Entrance follows Suziey, a barista in Silverlake, Los Angeles leading a lonely life. She goes about her daily routine, comprised of little more than making coffee for people in a small café, playing with Darryl, and spending time with friends. Eventually, Darryl goes missing, prompting Susie to come to the ultimate conclusion that she needs to leave the city and, in a final farewell, throws a party with her roommate. But things don’t quite go as she planned.
The problem with Entrance is that there isn’t a real story to hold your interest. Hallam and Horvath attempt to create a sort of half-baked character study that focuses on the seemingly mundane life of a girl who, in going through the motions of her life, fails to pay due attention to the stranger that has taken to following her. In better hands, this could provide a suitable slow-burn setup for the far more violent conclusion, but Hallam and Horvath fail to truly capitalize on the setup by focusing on the day to day life of Suziey.
It’s as if we’re supposed to relate to the character and, to some extent, her friends, but the cold, hard truth of the matter is that real life is boring, and Suziey’s life is as close to real as it gets.
The first hour of the film is thus a plodding affair, one act stretched into two as we follow Suziey simply being a struggling barista in a big city. The attempts at suspense are relegated to the mysterious stranger and a few sounds outside of her house, and until we get to the third act, you’re struggling to find something substantive in a film that has almost nothing substantive in it. The incident that sets up the second act is a non-incident, and serves as a means to set up the climax. Most of the film plays out in this manner – an hour of repetitive events that hold almost no bearing on the weak climax, which fails to redeem the attempts at making us care about Suziey and her plight.
If you took away the conclusion, Entrance is a mumblecore film at its finest; the problem here is that the lives of its protagonists are anything but interesting. Simply tacking on a violent conclusion to an hour of generic people living their lives while skirting suspense isn’t a movie; the characters aren’t developed enough to make us genuinely care about their ultimate fate. Everything leading up to it plays out like nothing more than a “day in the life” affair, and it just doesn’t work.
1 out of 5