Directed by Greg White
Separation opens with an absolutely innocent shot of a young girl riding a bicycle. It isn't until later in the film that we learn exactly what we were watching. And that is exactly what Separation is all about. This is a film that masterfully uses sleight of hand like a highly-skilled magician to show us one thing while setting up something completely different. And writer/director Greg White brings it all together in a tense film with an exciting climax that pulls back all the curtains.
The movie revolves around Liz and Jack, a couple who have moved into a new home in the hopes that it will help them save their struggling marriage. However, the neighborhood they've settled into is suddenly gripped in terror as a serial killer stalks the residents. One strange local resident after another suddenly turn up at their front door to greet the new residents. We meet creepy real estate agent Guy Sellers (yep, that's his real name) and the couple's neighbor, Geoffrey ("…with a 'G'!"), both of who immediately have the viewer thinking they could be prime serial killer suspects.
The film is driven by the performances of the married couple. Sarah Manninen is brilliant in the role of Liz and Peter Stebbings is very good in his portrayal of her husband, Jack. Manninen, especially, is outstanding in the film. Her role as the wife is very deep. She is the wounded woman, but then the role morphs into something much darker she handles the transition beautifully.
The film itself is a nicely constructed indie. As a viewer, you could do without the overuse of 'scary music' to heighten the mood. And, although much of the acting is above average for an indie film, you do notice some wooden deliveries scattered throughout the movie. That being said, the film does make up for its shortcomings with some other very impressive aspects. It's very nicely shot and the story is excellent. It delivers one surprise after another and none of them seem unrealistic. Separation gradually peels layer upon layer of subterfuge away to reveal exactly what has torn this couple asunder and left the family in tatters. And I'm sure you'll be as surprised as I was when you find out the truth behind the tale. The story gets a bit convoluted in parts, but everything becomes clear in the end.
Tension is what makes a film appealing and when you combine the elements of Separation: a failing marriage (with a live-in mother-in-law…that's right. Ouch!), a serial killer on the rampage (give me the serial killer over the live-in mother-in-law any day!) in a town that gets progressively stranger and you can see that there are endless possibilities for getting the audience to squirm in their seats. And White manages to do just that. Fans of a unique story will dig this film, and if you like indies, you'll fall in love with this dastardly film which ends with a still shot that sent chills up my spine considering what was about to happen next. Separation is certainly worth a look.
3 1/2 out of 5