A Stylish, Unique Thriller
Sun Choke earns props for visual style.
It beats some thrillers by a mile.
Intriguing shots of things mundane
evoke dark thoughts of dreadful pain.
For Janie, trying to get well
and rise up out of her sad Hell,
even plain drains and broken glass
cause memories to come and pass.
She struggles with her nanny dear,
Irma -- a strong woman to fear.
Who will win this bloody game?
And, for the outcome, who’s to blame?
Fine direction moves plot along --
but not too fast. That would be wrong.
Style and substance together make
Sun Choke a film not to forsake.
We don’t know much about Janie and Irma during the beginning of this excellent psychological thriller. Sun Choke offers only tiny hints about their past. But the movie dives right into their symbiotic relationship. Clearly, Janie (Sarah Hagan) is recovering from some kind of psychotic break and seems to be under Irma’s care. At first, Irma (Barbara Crampton) comes across as a loving caretaker. Then slowly, very slowly, we begin to see her ultra-controlling -- even sadistic -- nature. She monitors Janie’s restrictive diet, supervises her demanding exercises, helps the 20-something young lady bathe, and even decides when Janie can leave the house alone for short periods of time.
On one of these outings, Janie becomes obsessed with the lovely Savannah (Sara Malakul Lane). And this obsession leads to terrible consequences for all three women. To say much more about the plot would spoil the movie for you -- but rest assured that Hagan, Crampton and Lane deliver remarkable performances in their difficult roles. Hagan projects vulnerability, confusion and an eerie aura that promises surprises to come. Crampton exudes a kind of scary strength, and Lane is very believable as a trusting soul.
Happily, writer/director Ben Cresciman allowed Matthew Rudenberg to be highly creative with his cinematography.The result? We see and feel the confusion in Janie’s mind. Dramatic close-ups and lightning-quick flashbacks are used in a way that keeps us fascinated and eager to know what’s going to happen next. Plus, Bryan Hollon’s atmospheric background music adds a great deal to the film’s exquisite suspense.
WARNING: Sun Choke contains extremely graphic scenes of violence, blood and gore. So watch your back, Quentin Tarantino.
(Released by XLator Media. Not rated by MPAA.)
For more information about Sun Choke, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.