Stars:Stephen Chambers, James Gilbert and David Patrick Flemming
If any further proof were needed that low-budget, independent cinema is the breeding ground for intelligent and unique horror, THE CORRIDOR should put all lingering doubts to rest and seal the deal once and for all. What will understandably first appear as yet another cheap exploitation flick very quickly subverts all expectations and rises above the crowd to become one of the most thoughtful, disturbing and resonant horror films in recent years.
The plot, going in, feels bare bones and time-worn....a group of lifelong friends are invited to a remote cabin in the woods by one of their number; an estranged friend who, one year previous, went a little insane after watching his mother die, and struck out violently at his friends as they tried to help him. The friends all arrive at the cabin to find their old buddy awaiting them, and as the already fragile groups distrust in their once beloved companion increasingly fractures, blood begins to flow....
Sounds like standard slasher fare, right? Well, THE CORRIDOR uses this simple set-up as a jumping point for a tale that goes to some very dark, completely surprising places. Its a film made crafted with skill, intellect and poise.
Wisely building on the tentative attempts at reconciliation as his conduit for tension, director Evan Kelly and writer Josh MacDonald create a slow burning sense of unease, paranoia and miscommunication between the five man group as they attempt to reconcile their bonds and lay to rest the traumatic events that have so deeply damaged their dynamic. The horror elements take a back seat to character building, emotional resonance and insight into who these guys are and where they're at for at least half the movie, and it works wonderfully. The inherent sense of danger in the immediate circumstances are only heightened with the discovery of the eponymous 'corridor', yet when the supernatural elements enter into the fray, the focus remains firmly on the men.
Without giving too much away, the guys discover something in the woods that defies explanation, and as wonder turns to obsession, each mans weakness', insecurity, regret and internal hostility towards the others is brought to the fore, leading up to a bloody, brutal finale that will hit the viewer in the gut as well as in the cerebral cortex.
The corridor itself makes for a perfect foil with which to explore themes of identity, masculinity and greed, as MacDonald's often excellent writing and the casts top notch performances ground the supernatural elements in the real world. The budgetary restrictions that would drag down most small projects are deftly alleviated as the real horror is all human. The entity/enigma that so transforms and transfixes the group has a similar effect on the viewer in that it demands thought, coherency and understanding.
Indeed, there are many ways to interpret the events that take place in THE CORRIDOR. Its a film that allows for much debate and theory-slinging. I myself was torn as to how I interpreted the entity, and have bounced between ideas and concepts since my second watch. It could be that what we're witnessing the the deterioration of a singular spiritual universe, (that of one of the group), or it may be something as simple as a powder-keg atmosphere exploding into violent life as disillusioned lives and long-buried resentments finally break the surface of the psyche. Perhaps the corridor represents the often endless search to attain our hopes and dreams, and illustrates just how damaging the search, (and the lack of attainment) may ultimately become. Each viewer will find their own reasoning or understanding, and that's what makes THE CORRIDOR so satisfying. Its a great ensemble piece and a genuinely frightening horror film, but it accomplishes something much more important, it breeds thought at every turn.
For instance, much talk is made of the corridor reaching 'the city'. Now, on first impression, this could simply mean that the corridor itself is expanding, reaching out and searching for new victims; yet on deeper contemplation, I came to regard the 'city' as being perhaps a celestial locale and that the group were possibly being drawn from out physical realm into a greater and more profound understanding of the infinite universe; one in which flesh and mortality were trifling ideas. On the other hand, as the corridor is discovered in the remote, (and beautiful) woodlands of Nova Scotia, and the men had all travelled from a city, (where, crucially, none of them were content with their lives), perhaps the corridor was the inescapable pull of their 'normal' lives, drawing them back into the fold, and corroding their sanity as it did so.
I could go on for hours. THE CORRIDOR does what so few films manage these days. It turns the gears of the mind, and challenges the viewers perceptions in a way that's accessible and engaging, while never losing sight of the fact that at its heart, its about the tragic destruction of friendship. It really should find its audience. Films this unique should be held high as examples to those who believe horror is lowest common denominator cinema. The genre was built on intelligence, and while it loses sight of its original intent far too often, there are still some artists out there holding the fire, and blazing their own trails for all its worth. Bravo to all involved.
9 Universal Minds out of 10