Imagine, for a moment, that are you enjoying your life and the place that you call home. Now, imagine that without your knowledge, someone has been living in your home, only exposing themselves when you are away at work or in the middle of the night when you are most vulnerable. To me, that is just as frightening as any boogeyman or supernatural killer, and a vision that is hard to shake. In Dominic Bridge's feature debut, TWO PIGEONS, we learn just how far someone will go to exact revenge against a person who has done them wrong.
The best way to describe TWO PIGEONS would be part dark comedy with hints of realistic horror elements and themes of sadness and loss. The film centers around two key figures: Sonny, played by Mim Shaikh, an arrogant and dishonest real estate agent and Orlan, played fantastically by Javier Botet, the victim of Sonny's real estate scheme. Though there are other characters throughout the film, the main focus is the relationship between these two people. Orlan has secretly moved into Sonny's apartment without his knowledge and as each day passes, his revenge tactics increasingly become more malicious. We as the viewer begin to put together the pieces of why Orlan has moved into Sonny's flat by the conversation he has with tow pigeons outside his window. Though we should be shocked by what Orlan is doing, it's easier to understand where he's coming from and how he got to that point as the story unfolds, leading us to have sympathy for his character.
What makes this film so great is the incredible acting talents of Mim Shaikh and Javier Botet. I was familiar with Botet's work in the horror genre with such films as MAMA, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR, and THE CONJURING 2, so I was ecstatic to see him in a film where he didn't require massive amounts of makeup to hide his facial and body features. As for Mim Shaikh, this film was my first introduction to his acting abilities and he really sold it as the skeezy, untrustworthy real estate agent. Their relationship, even though they are barely on screen together, was what really drove this film and made it such a captivating viewing experience. As Orlan's vengeance increases, the viewer has the chance to see how it affects Sonny's life, not just in his apartment, but the relationships that he has with his friends and loved ones.
I wouldn't categorize TWO PIGEONS as your typical horror flare, but it does present ideas that are truly terrifying. As I mentioned earlier, the thought of someone living in a place that I reside and not knowing they are there is absolutely frightening. I think too many times horror films try to overcompensate with jump scares and gore even though that doesn't equate to a good horror movie. In a film such as this, it didn't need to rely on those aspects because it tapped into a fear that most people have. The violence in the film is very minimal instead entrusting that the actors would do their part to captivate the audience through the consequences of their actions. By doing so, that resulted in a layer of tension that was palpable and left the viewer on the edge of their seat.
Overall, TWO PIGEONS is one of the most uniquely told films that I have seen at the SXSW Film Festival. It may not be everyone's flavor, especially those who love hardcore horror filled with blood and guts, but it still has moments that are truly unsettling and disturbing. Combine that with the top-notch acting from Mim Shaikh and Javier Botet, along with the underlying message of loss, vengeance and morality, you end up with a film that is a notch above anything else out there. There is no release date for the film yet, but if you happen to see it at any local film festivals, I urge you to check it out. You won't be disappointed.