Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Desolation (2017) Combines Classic Cinema Madness With Our Dark Digital World

A young woman has a chance encounter with a hearthrob star filming a movie in her small town that leads her to a fling vacation in Los Angeles. With a few days alone in the star's apartment building, she uncovers the darkest extensions of entertainment.

Written by Craig Walendziak & Matthew McCarty
Directed by David Moscow

Katie Connor sleeps with her curtains completely drawn and glances upon dreary roads expressionless as she makes her way to a service occupation at a hotel, luckily capturing glimpses of life when she girl talk's with her co-worker/friend Debbie. The external may seem pretty ordinary, but this is a horror movie, and inside of Katie is a hoarder's row of trauma she drowns out with a prescription drug and time not occupied with the web or celebrities. Jay Cutter, that guy from the movies that all the girls love and some would even "fuck if he had AIDS" saunters on the damp concrete of Elmira, New York, totally taken by Katie's lack of starstruck intrigue.

What lands in Katie's lap is a bed of ease that creates elated sensations of things beginning to turn around for her. Luck, as Debbie infers with her envious glances, is on Katie's side when Jay promises a few days away from the mundanity. Los Angeles is a little brighter, much more unpredictable, but not to the spectator, with its champagne soaked parties occupied by sociopaths in expensive rags and Jay's currently renovated apartment building you're likely to see on the Investigation Discovery channel. Each sign that something isn't quite right is both excitingly suspenseful and frustrating to watch as Katie endures and endures even more to unmask what this building and who these people really are. There is much more beneath this one major experience in Katie's life that has slid into a pit of muck. Everything around her has been used as tools to destroy her while she does her very best to combat them.

Played brilliantly by Cuban actress Dominik García-Lorido, Katie's descends in this cleverly condensed space, and in order to sleep peacefully at night, she has to scrub it raw with a priest, some robbers, the police, and even the figure of a little girl that no one else seems to see wandering about in the hallways. Each performance is dynamite, with a veteran like Raymond J. Barry (The X-Files, The Purge: Election Year, Gotham) as Father Bill leading the charge with additional, promising newcomers with García-Lorido, Brock Kelly's (Pitch Perfect) charming Jay and Ninja Devoe (Queen Sugar) as the rock Debbie to Katie's instability. Needless to say but I always love saying it, Desolation presents the lives of people of not just different class statuses but of cultural and racial backgrounds.

Desolation feels like a kitchen sink of classics and indie gems woven into a modern nightmare: Repulsion (1965), Starry Eyes (2014), The Den (2013), Rosemary's Baby (1968) and even Psycho (1960) echo within the walls of the building Katie rages against. The physical violence is extremely overshadowed by the emotional brutality and gaslighting that Desolation highlights. By extension, it expertly exposes a woman scorned without ever feeling exploitative with commentative emphasis on the complete toilet the internet, media, gender politics, celebrity, and commerce is in a lot of ways. There's absolutely nothing that's censored for the senses and triggers will fire in all corners of your brain for this ride of a narrative that I definitely encourage. Desolation is not quite popcorn fare with its spots of disturbing imagery, but it is a highly energetic, instropective, and honest piece.