Newlyweds are buying a house away from the city for a good place to start a life together. It doesn't take long before they get acquainted with the neighbors, one which the wife finds shooting his shotgun on their yard. More bizarre things start happening and soon they're involved in something out of this world which puts them in a position where nothing is as it seems.
Independent film has gotten a long way in the last decade or so, and we're certainly in a place where some impressive mind-bending movies seemingly come out of nowhere because it's a lot easier to make movies, so the right people have the chance to. I say this with the movie "Resolution" in mind, a movie we simply love here at Film Bizarro. The reason that I bring it up is because that movie was kept us on edge and questioning everything that happened up until the very creepy end. Now take that feeling and mix it with "Pet Sematary", and you're somewhere close to what "Animosity" is. Frankly, that's not at all what I had expected out of this movie. It's a very pleasant surprise that this managed to not only entertain me, but kept my mind busy putting pieces together while also actually caring about what happens.
I'm not sure at which end I should start. I'll be honest and say that the movie doesn't always do a good job at explaining exactly what is going on, and the sound levels were really weird which meant I had to turn the volume up and down. Needless to say, certain things could have been missed. But the specifics do not matter right now, this is what you need to know: it starts with a mother chasing her own daughter with a black & decker tool, and then cuts to the mother selling the house to a newlywed couple. We're now in the house with the couple, and from here on things get weird. Neighbors and people visiting don't appear to be who they say they are, the husband seems to be hiding something, the wife keeps herself occupied by editing her horror movie "The Demon Bite". One day the wife has her first meeting with the neighbor Tom - a guy she has seen her husband talk to before - when he's standing in their yard shooting his shotgun at something. She confronts him and realizes that the man is crazy. I'll stop with the details due to spoilers, but it's from here that we're thrown into a horror drama consisting of a number of people leading to betrayal and mistrust, deaths, people resurrecting from the dead, supernatural powers, and so on.
The movie is surprisingly easy to follow for being a movie that is utterly confusing and never gives us the full backstory or details about what the hell is happening. We're slowly given small pieces that will make sense of the current scene, but a lot of the time we don't know how it all connects. What I'm trying to say is that the filmmakers have a complex vision based on a simple idea, and we're never introduced to the complete origins. Does it matter? Yes and no. It doesn't make the movie any less interesting or entertaining, but sometimes you find yourself focusing on how things fit together rather than what's going on. I enjoyed the confusion to an extent, much like in the above mentioned "Resolution", but the premise of "Animosity" might not be as unique as its execution of it. It's a tough nut to crack - I know I liked the movie, but I don't know at what point the confusing parts became a vise to tell a story, and where they're simply a case of not giving the audience enough.
"Animosity" has quite a large cast where everyone is important, so I'm happy to say they all did a good job. Tracy Willet as Carrie, the wife, is definitely the star of the movie and the support we need as an audience. She plays the unsuspecting Carrie really well, and makes the transition to a strong protagonist in a believable way. Luckily she's not the typical female protagonist either, there is always something she's not giving us that makes even the our only protagonist a small puzzle. The rest of the cast are solid too, from the smallest of roles such as the mother who sold them the house (played by Thea McCartan), to the more important violent neighbor Tom (Stephan Goldbach).
I don't have a lot of things to complain about. The main thing would be that even when the movie is exciting and tricky to crack, the suspense sort of dies down after the first 40 minutes. Not completely, but once you start putting pieces together everything becomes less of a question of "what?" but more of a "why?", and in this case I was more thrilled when I didn't know what was happening. Perhaps it has to do with how the movie never moved to quite as strange areas as we've been expecting since the opening sequence. I don't have a problem with the last third or the ending, not at all, but the movie starts building a lot of horror momentum and somewhere grows more towards a thriller.
In the end, it's a good movie. You can't completely grasp it, so getting a general idea of your opinion in writing is certainly hard, but that's part of the charm of it. It's unusual but within somewhat familiar territories, but definitely unique enough to be an experience worth going through. It kept me on guard trying to puzzle things together and while I didn't get all my answers, I found plenty of entertainment in the movie. It's a very dark but playful horror thriller. With a solid cast we're introduced to a number of colorful characters that each have an important part, and I'm happy to say we actually care what will happen to them. "Animosity" has its ups and downs, but in the end I really enjoyed watching it. Sometimes creepy, sometimes intense, but always thrilling. The filmmakers have a very bright future ahead of them if they continue to make movies like "Animosity".