Starring David Morrissey, Clemence Poesey, Stephen Campbell Moore
Directed by David Farr
You’re likely going to take one out of two paths when attempting to share space with a neighbor, be it next door in an apartment complex or home, or upstairs or downstairs from you in a flat-styled setup – path one being complete and total ignorance, shutting yourself out from conversation (perhaps a passing greeting), and path two being that overly annoying soul who gloms onto every waking moment one of the parties may be in the middle of during the course of residency.
Any way you slice it, there will always be that small sense of vulnerability and apprehension when a moment crosses between the two, and in David Farr’s slow creeper The Ones Below, dueling pregnant mommies-to-be take the stage in what surely will be an estrogen-induced throwdown.
Residing in the upstairs portion of a London flat are the happy twosome of Kate (Poesey) and Justin (Moore) – workaholics and soon-to-be-parents. Their safe and serene boundaries are about to get a tiny bit cramped when a new couple moves into the long-uninhabited apartment below them. Our new pairing in question are Teresa (Laura Birn) and Jon (Morrissey… yes, “The Walking Dead’s” Governor). They, too, are expecting the birth of a tiny little bundle.
The initial encounters are a bit stuffy, to say the least, but they manage to deal, and it’s not long before a little dinner soiree is at hand. A little too much alcoholic consumption leads to a tragic event, and after the traumatic experience wears off, then it’s time for a little (or a lot) of finger-pointing, adding up to some fairly tense moments as the show rolls along.
The focus really shifts off of the two couples as a whole unit to Kate’s ever-growing sleep deprivation-induced paranoia, and we’ll even throw in a little post-partum depression for not-so-good-measure. Poesey grabs hold of each and every fiber of her character’s psychosis and rides it to a stellar conclusion. All of the remaining performances are sufficient at best, but I was particularly disappointed that Morrissey wasn’t given more of an intimidating role for his strong acting style; yet, the moments he does capture in front of the camera are as stoic and subtly formidable as one could hope for – the guy could stare down a runaway freight train if need be.
Overall, the film does move at a snail’s pace, but the wonder and trepidation of another tense moment will keep you hanging on until the credits roll. Thumbs up, Mr. Farr – you’ve created something very eerie and very real. RECOMMENDED.