Tuesday, February 19, 2019

It's Normal (2018) Is The Vampire Allegory That Makes America Think Again

Latresa Baker as Kay

A young office worker learns her changing world is even scarier than she realized when she checks in on a friend who has stopped attending their grief support group.
(From Press Kit)

Written by Nicole Witte Solomon & Sean Mannion

Directed by Nicole Witte Solomon

One of the most effective moods a filmmaker can invoke, specifically in the horror genre, is one of discomfort. From the opening scene's of Nicole Witte Solomon's (director, Small Talk, Mare) festival circuit hitting latest, It's Normal, you see a familiar Brooklyn that's not so familiar. You see the everyday behaviors you witness seem a little off. That twinge of anxiety is expressed when Kay (Latresa Baker) visits Lucy (Tara Cioletti) at her apartment. She's been MIA from their support group, not answering texts or calls, and that's pretty terrifying in a world where people are disappearing so rapidly. There's an immediate, rational threat outdoors when the sun goes down that's a little more terrifying.

Following is the socially awkward dance as Kay interacts with Lucy's snide, off-putting roommate Reina (Rory Lipede) who insist she, for safety's sake, stay as the afternoon turns to night. Lucy's potluck friends gather in the space for the even more awkward descent into politics talk, loaded with a smidge of gaslighting, carbs, and a disturbing, casual heaping of cognitive dissonance. While conversations and alcohol flow, the unsettling screeches from the outside does nothing to assauge the tonal tension. Especially in a very striking frame as a handprint appears on Lucy's window.

Lucy (Tara Cioletti)

The age old question simmers: what if the terrible thing is already lurking inside? It's Normal makes cleverly plain the fear of what some people so easily accept from those truly hellbent on making this world inhabitable. Solomon, along with co-writer Sean Mannion are toying with an audiences emotional senses and hitting the complicit button I think we all are afraid to even glimpse at ourselves. That's the horror of It's Normal: that Lucy, Reina, we, accept the nihilism and those who uphold it. There is a literal monster, but its metaphorical meaning fits in the context of the film's overall message. This film is a consideration, a Twilight Zone episode for better reference with frightening visuals and excellent care to effects and blocking.

Solomon, true to her convinctions creates films that reflect reality and it shows in the optics of her players as well as collaborative colleagues behind the lens. Her work continues to be very personal, thought provoking, and beautifully alarming. It's Normal pokes at the numbness of our perceptive fears of a world that wants to supress our desries, growth, and well-being as humans. There's never been anything scarier than the ability to be our best selves disappearing. And there's never been a better way to combat our enemies than through art.

Learn more about It's Normal, including where to see it here.



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