REVIEW: Threshold (2020)

dir. Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young.

When Leo (Joey Millin) gets word that his sister Virginia (Madison West) may have spiralled into another drug relapse, he drives to what he assumes will be another emotionally draining assist to support her into rehab. However upon arrival things seem off: there’s someone in a red cloak running round the apartment block; Virginia flips between an apparent overdose and being stone-cold sober and she claims to have been assaulted in some kind of occult ceremony that has left her cursed. Initially sceptical, Leo agrees to drive her cross country to the one person they think might be able to help.

Certain elements are praise-worthy in Robinson and Young’s mumblecore horror: there’s an admirable focus on character that allows the relationships – and obviously fraught histories – to breathe, and being shot on a couple of iPhones on a small budget gives it a disarming run-and-gun indie spirit. This is, however, accompanied by some technical and artistic limitations, such as the repetitive blocking in long car-based dialogue sequences and audio which can feel like poorly mixed ADR. The result has the fingerprints of collaborative effort all over it, though one which is somewhat rough and underdeveloped.

Dramatically too the film has problems. There is simply not enough plot to sustain even the slight 78min runtime, with neither the script nor performances being compelling enough to hold one’s attention fully. The set-up might seem intriguing, but in reality what’s left is a lengthy series of conversations split across car journeys, motels and yet more time on the road, before arriving at a suitably unsettling denouement. The final act – though effectively creepy in nodding to Kill List – is not enough, and leaves one wishing we’d spent less time circling the inner angst of the central siblings and more time ramping up the dread.


Tim Coleman

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