Indie Movie Review: EXPOSURE (2018)

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EXPOSURE is a new horror film, from the minds of Adam Snell and Jake Jackson. Snell directs with Jackson co-writing, and the film stars Owen Lawless (Helltown) and Carmen Anello, with special guest horror legend Lynn Lowry (I Drink Your Blood, Shivers, The Crazies). 

EXPOSURE is a callback to practical effects in horror films, siding with a decided lack of CGI. Two lovers, Myra (Anello) and James (Lawless) make their way to James' grandparents home in the mountains. Over the course of a few days, strange events occur, their relationship is tested, ugly history is unearthed, and ultimately, tragedy ensues. 

Personally, I love practical effects, the hayday of which I grew up in. Initially, I wanted to see this film for that very reason - I'm not against CGI, but I love a good practical romp. I also, as I've mentioned in previous reviews, absolutely love small casts and isolated locations, and this film couldn't be any more sparse in terms of scenery and people. Unfortunately, it didn't necessarily live up to its expectations. 

The acting, though the cast is small, is divisive. Carmen Anello, our leading lady, is excellent, with perhaps a moment or two of wavering. Not nearly enough to hinder the film. Our gentleman lead, Owen Lawless, however...not so much. There are moments throughout the film where I found myself thinking, were this or that moment executed better on Lawless's part, the scenes would have practically carried themselves. Lawless is almost the inverse of Anello - where her moments of weakness are few and far between, his moments of strength are just as myriad. Where he really shines, however, is near the end of the film, at it's most monstery and climatic. Perhaps sticking to creature roles would suit him best in his future. 

Technically speaking, the movie is delivered decently, but it certainly suffers in this department. I came to a crossroads in its technical execution - the lighting is great, the editing is good, the direction works. However, there are moments where, in exterior shots, the color looks blown out, and surfaces are washed away. I don't know why this was overlooked. Such an oversight can severely hinder the movie watching experience, and this was certainly the case for me. The color palette stays somewhat consistent, which works well enough. My absolute biggest gripe, however, is somewhere near the 3/4 mark, with smatterings here and there in the beginning: it almost feels like we're occasionally watching two different movies! Some scenes are uncomfortably different between cuts, and the near climax of the movies feels like we're finally getting to the movie we should have been watching all along. While the climax is great, if the opening of the film had followed suit, my take away upon viewing would have been much improved. 

The plot itself is pretty straightforward. Remote location, some sort of madness, a nameless body-consuming being, family and relationship trouble, and so on. Very modern Lovecraftian with a little bit of hum-drum drama. Some bits and bobs feel contrived, and there is a decided want to care for some of these characters, but ultimately, I had a hard time doing so. No fault to the actors on that one - it has much more to do with how awkwardly certain moments were written. 

The shining moments come through from the performance, albeit brief, from our resident horror legend, Lynn Lowry. She appears for a flashback, and near the climax of the film, and she's quite the presence! I would have, personally, loved to have seen a film about the two grandparents of the movie. Their story seems certainly much more intriguing. 

If the film managed to shorten its first half, and introduce us to the crazy moments in its ending earlier, I would be much more satisfied. The near end is great! Some pure, neo-80s cheese, with a hint of good ol' Cronenberg. Keep that feeling through the whole movie, and I would have walked away satisfied, no doubt. Give EXPOSURE a viewing for yourself and see what you think, but don't say I didn't warn you. 

Ian Harvey

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