Fantasia 2015: The Interior
Calling Trevor Juras’ debut The Interior a horror film might come across as a little disingenuous, considering its genre elements show up in the film’s final stretch. As the title suggests, this is a film dealing with internal issues. James (Patrick McFadden) has a well-paying job and nice apartment in Toronto, but he’s chronically miserable. After getting called in on a Sunday, James loses it, getting himself fired and winding up with a new job as an air duct cleaner. But his new job doesn’t change things for him, so he flees to a forest in British Columbia, living as a hermit.
Juras certainly has ambition to spare, and his blending of different cinematic styles gives The Interior the honour of being one of the more interesting genre debuts in recent memory. The opening act in Toronto feels like a standard indie comedy about (yet another) white male’s arrested development, the piano-based score and aversion to dialogue feels indebted to silent films, and once the film transitions to the wilderness it goes into European arthouse territory (the title card doesn’t appear until James ends up in BC, a choice that implies this is where the film really begins). For a genre that’s criticised for its reliance on tropes and conventions, it’s always welcome to see a horror film willing to take risks.
And in this case, Juras’ risk pays off. The prelude in the city is hit and miss, with James’ sardonic attitude quickly growing stale, but things pick up considerably once he goes off to live in solitude. The cinematography by Othello J. Ubalde—also making his feature debut—takes full advantage of the forest’s ethereal beauty and intimidating vastness, and Juras nails down a sort of casual tone that makes his film’s long, wordless stretches surprisingly involving.
But once James starts noticing someone (or something) appears to be following him, Juras and Ubalde use the forest to crank up the tension considerably. Once nighttime hits everything becomes pitch black, and the image of James wandering around with nothing but his flashlight showing what’s in front of him makes it impossible not to tense up wondering what might be lurking if he were to shine his light a few feet in another direction. It’s in these later sections of the film that The Interior really works best as a fascinating character study. It’s a film following someone whose fears make him travel so far inward that he winds up coming out of the other side of reality into madness and horror. Even though some of Juras’ attempts don’t entirely work, it’s still nice to see someone actually trying to do something different. And I personally can’t wait to see what Juras tries next.
The Interior makes its world premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival on July 27th. To find out more about the festival, visit www.fantasiafestival.com