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Monday, October 24, 2016
Some movies are a slow, gradual, tortured descent into the depths of insanity. THE ID (2015) is a fat guy doing a cannonball into the backyard swimming pool of insanity and then splashing around in it like a water buffalo.
Okay, maybe the first twenty minutes or so start off as though this just might be a sensitive "Lifetime Channel"-type portrait of how difficult life can be for the full-time caregiver tending an invalid loved one.
There are even elements that anyone who's been through a similar situation will readily identify with--the helplessness, hopelessness, frequent despair, anxiety, fear, frustration, the soul-wracking inability to cope. Meridith (Amanda Wyss, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SILVERADO) exhibits it all, and we immediately begin to feel for her.
But this is no tender exploration of feelings nor an emotional journey of spiritual yearning. Because Meridith's wheelchair-bound father (Patrick Peduto) is an irredeemable son of a bitch who doesn't even have the saving grace of being a once-sane person with a deteriorating mind--we get the impression, mainly from Meridith's frequent flashbacks, that he's always been a bitter and hateful wretch.
Thus, THE ID isn't softening us up for a touchy-feeling empathy session between Meredith and Dad and a mourning of the tragic incremental demise of his lucidity. Instead, it's setting us up for a long, painful look at her own sanity getting the old rubber-hose workover for an hour and a half until her head finally starts to fly apart at the seams and her life becomes a nightmarish, delusional death wish.
A phone call from an old high-school beau, Ted (Malcolm Matthews), requesting a reunion is the impetus for her to begin indulging in a fantasy scenario in which he returns to her life buffed, bronzed, and devilishly handsome, sweeping her off her feet and carrying her away. Dad, of course, shatters this illusion with cruel, cackling glee, reminding her that she's an aging nobody who's going nowhere except right there with him for the rest of her worthless life.
With this set-up duly set up, the film becomes an all-out suspense thriller as Meredith's thoughts turn ever more toward murder even as we fear what the old man might be capable of himself. As per Sean H. Stewart's taut, lean script, Peduto plays Dad with a distinct edge of deliberate villainy, so much so that we almost forgive Meridith for physically attacking him after being goaded into it.
Amanda Wyss, on the other hand, invests her character with so much deep-seated sadness and utter despair, as well as occasional bouts of sheer, primal frenzy, that we sympathize with her poignant yearning even as we fear her. Wyss really puts herself through the ringer for this part and is definitely exploring some scary emotional territory to pull it off.
In addition to the clashes with Dad come Meridith's not-so-smooth dealings with the "normal" outside people she encounters such as nosy young social worker Tricia (Jamye Grant), whose maddeningly chipper demeanor hides a growing suspicion of Meridith's treatment of her father (she'll eventually bring the police into it).
Former boyfriend Ted finally does show up for a visit one afternoon, and the way Meridith's fairytale vision of the occasion plays out in real life is one of the most deliciously cringeworthy scenes you're likely to see in a while.
There's more to the story, of course, which I can't go into. Suffice it to say, however, that THE ID truly does bleed its way into horror-movie territory, not only with the usual gotcha-type scares but with some genuinely morbid imagery.
The majority of the story is told from Meridith's point of view so almost all of the camerawork is loose and unbalanced, but--thanks to the skill and good instincts of first-time director Hutson--never obvious or out of control.
The Blu-ray from Hutson Ranch and Panic Ventures is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound. No subtitles. Extras include the featurette "Needs, Wants, and Desires: Behind the Scenes of The Id", more behind-the-scenes footage, a commentary with Hutson and Wyss, deleted and alternate scenes, audition clips, a photo gallery, and a trailer.
I didn't find THE ID to be a 100% fulfilling experience, mainly because the father was such a one-dimensional bad guy, but I would still rate it very highly as an effective, involving suspense thriller rife with touches of creeping horror. Most of all, it's an acting tour-de-force for Amanda Wyss, whose character is lost in a desert of crazy and every potential oasis is a maddening mirage.
Buy it at Amazon.com