Those who like atmospheric thrillers that feature pentagrams and second sight and mysterious incantations from ancient texts will enjoy guaranteed goosebumps in this story of a doctor who tries to help the little girl who escaped from a serial killer but is too traumatized to give the police any information.
“ER’s” Goran Visnijk plays Michael, a hypnotherapist who has come to London to escape his past. He is trying to make a life for his pregnant wife (Miranda Otto of Lord of the Rings and their daughter by hypnotizing people who want to quit smoking. He treats a police officer (Shirley Henderson) who is impressed with his insight and ability and persuades him to come with her to see Heather (Sophie Stuckey), mute since she ran away from the “tatoo killer.”
Heather’s are not the secrets that will be uncovered as the movie takes us through the quintessential thriller tropes, storytelling shorthand for some sort of concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly. So our heroes have to consult a creepy loner with expertise in the occult (In America’s Paddy Considine) and have to confront bellowing bureaucrats who don’t understand that this is the only way to find the killer. There are fake-out moments when we think something bad is going to happen and it doesn’t and freak-out moments when we think nothing bad is going to happen and it does, and we even get one of those “don’t go into the house” moments where someone who would be crazy to enter alone without telling anyone does. Except instead of a house, it’s a church. And there are some logical loopholes and some clunky lines (“Men choose to be weak because power frightens them!”).
But it is directed with such atmosphere and acted with such conviction that it does the job it is trying to do very nicely.
Parents should know that this is a horror movie with disturbing themes, intense peril, grisly images, torture, and murder. There are references to the serial killing of several children, though it is made clear that they were not sexually assaulted. Characters smoke, drink, and use very strong language.
Families who see this movie should talk about their own views on extra-sensory perception or hypnosis. What do you think Michael will do next?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Rosemary’s Baby. Some of the same themes are explored in Dead Again and in a completely different genre in Being John Malkovich.