REVIEW: Amulet (2020)

dir. Romola Garai

Bats are on the menu with this slow build debut from actress-turn-director Romola Garai: but under the great build-up and gritty set design things fall into the familiar trap of over-egging the surrealism to the detriment of the final film.

Amulet follows former soldier Tomas (Alec Secareanu) who – having escaped to the UK to get away from the war in his own country – tries to find a better life and get off the streets. After a fire burns down his shelter, Tomas is taken in by a friendly nun (played by British acting legend Imelda Staunton) who places him in the home of Magda (Carla Juri), a young woman who’s also the live-in carer of her dying mother. As the pair get closer, things start to become more sinister, and with his past actions coming back to haunt his dreams Tomas finds himself involved in something unbelievably shocking.

Tension builds throughout, with flashbacks to Tomas’ time as a guard showing he maybe isn’t as nice and clean cut as one is first led to believe. The film then unfolds a bizarre world which dips its toe into body horror mixed with the supernatural, making a compelling combination. Issues arise however when it tries to be more complicated than it needs to be, the third act delivering multiple reveals that dispel the feeling of dread, delivering a strange Hellraiser-style sequence which takes one completely out of the film.

However despite this the chemistry between Tomas and  Magda is initially charming, and the set design is effective in evoking empathy. The first two reveals are also done well: it’s just a shame it’s ruined by the final 15 minutes.

⭐⭐⭐

Mark Goddard

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