What percentage of encounters with the unknown are really just mundane miscues that are perceived as something more sinister by people who are pushed to the edge of sanity by life? You just lost your job and the health insurance that came with it, your cunt ex-wife left you and is now drinking martinis with the local golf pro at some swanky resort in Palm Springs. The bitch left the brat with you and now that little mofo has a runny nose, is shitting his pants, and has a fever that looks to be the handiwork of one Mr. Darryl Revok. You need to take the kid to the doctor, who you are pretty sure gave your wife some extra special gynecological exams at her behest. Where are the keys to your ’95 Oldsmobile? You swear you left them on the end table with the fractured leg. You look for them on the floor, but all you see is lead paint chipped off the wall and a few mouse turds. Fuck!!!
Ghosts right? Perhaps it was demons from another dimension? Republicans that hate Obamacare? Wait, will those on the left even let you use the term “ghost” or “demon”? We don’t want to insult the dead, or monsters who are “benevolently challenged”. I yearn for the Dark Ages, when everything was so normal. Yeah, I’m pretty old, motherfuckers. I remember rotary dial phones. They were a bitch if you had a hangnail on your index finger.
Jaron Henrie-McCrea’s Curtain gives us one possible answer. It is the story of Danni (Danni Smith), an ex nurse whose bulb is burnt out from job stress. She moves into some new digs to start a new life, which includes becoming a save the whales activist. If you live in New York City, you have probably been stopped by one these people on the sidewalk as you make your way through the day. I find them politely obnoxious, even if some of their causes are worthwhile. I’m a misanthrope. Don’t mind me. As Danni renovates her new place, she notices that her brand new shower curtain has disappeared. What the f–? She buys another one and the same shit happens.
Fucking New York City.
With the help of her hipster friend Tim (Tim Leuke), Danni finds out that her shower curtain is being sucked into a portal to another dimension, or some such shit like that. Ridiculous fucking premise, huh? Most horror and sci-fi flicks have crazy premises, so don’t roll your eyes when you are reading this shit. You know who you are and if this flick is for you. McCrea (who sports a killer Mohawk btw) and co-writer Carys Edwards really make these outlandish happenings work. They show off some good skills in this low-budget affair. This isn’t paint by numbers big studio horror, directed by some wannabe hack who is using horror as a stepping stone to the next Julia Roberts schmaltz fest. McCrea and Edwards clearly understand and love horror, sci-fi and independent film.
Shot on a minuscule budget with a bit of guerrilla film making, Curtain is reminiscent of the horror movies of the 1980’s as well as classic indies from the 1990’s. Curtain shares some mutated DNA of Hal Hartley and John Carpenter, in my, perhaps retarded, opinion. I don’t say these things lightly. Curtain’s characters speak in a manner that makes us feel the dialogue was written and didn’t just form in the characters minds instantaneously. I get the same feeling from much of the classic Hartley shit. Curtain’s warped science and pseudo physics brings to mind something like Prince of Darkness.
Is Curtain a classic like Trust or one of Carpenter’s masterpieces? Probably not. However, it is a breezy and inventive independent horror film whose creativity is what the best in the two genres can give us. I definitely came away from this flick wanting to see more from McCrea and Edwards. The film never takes itself too seriously, yet it still builds tension and we feel the weight of death much more than you do in the average horror flick. That last part is something I really look for in genre films.
All the actors are good, with the standout being Rick Zahn as Uncle Gus. I may have written about my fondness for the name Gus—an all American type name if there ever was one!! Zahn’s Gus has the qualities that make a solid, stand-up dude. The excellent music by Adam Skerritt really pays homage to classic Carpenter soundtracks without aping them. This is a talent that some more well known filmmakers should develop.
If you have a short delay on your flight this holiday season, spending 74 minutes stuck on the tarmac with Curtain would be well-worth your while. At the 2015 NYC Horror Film Festival, where are saw this, Curtain won best screenplay and best sc-fi feature.