The Sublet is the type of horror film that explores a variety of themes. Anything from the paranormal and psychotic to the mysterious and the murderous; you’ll find it here. It comes to us from writer/director John Ainslie, and while his claim to fame in this particular genre is the comedic Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, make no mistake about it – this is not a humorous film.
It follows a couple that sublets an apartment from a mysteriously absent owner. They have a newborn child and are beginning to realize that parenting is hard. Especially the mother, Joanna. She finds herself struggling with postpartum depression and coping with her baby alone in this odd new surrounding. Left alone as her husband neglects her for his career, she discovers that the apartment has a violent past. She clings to her sanity as the apartment’s blood soaked past leaks into the present. It’s a topic that has been brushed on in horror films of the past, but not quite like this.
I found myself constantly guessing at what was actually taking place in this apartment. Is Joanna simply losing her grasp on reality? Is she a murderer? Is she lost in thought while reading the words of someone else, or is she living in their footsteps? Are the people around her even real? Who keeps moving the goddamn furniture?! All of these are questions that you will undoubtedly be asking yourself throughout the film, and that’s a good thing. While it’s undoubtedly one of the best shot features to come out of Black Fawn Films, there are no murderous creatures busting through windows or body transformations to act as eye candy and distract us. It’s a mostly quiet and drab film. Without mystery and curiosity; there wouldn’t be much to go on here. Luckily, The Sublet pulls it off where and when it matters.
The performances are minimal – by that I mean, there simply aren’t many characters. But the ones that do appear on screen are generally pleasing. Even if that means they’re easy to hate. Sometimes, that’s the point. When it’s all said and done though, this is mostly a one woman show. Tianna Nori plays the disoriented and unappreciated wife/mother quite well. While a few lines of dialogue could have been better or improved, Nori speaks and reacts in a way that I believe any of us would in such a confusing and terrifying situation.
So is this something you should actively search out to buy or rent? I think so. The Sublet is subtle and mind-bending in it’s approach. It’s probably not something you would watch with a group of people for fun or scares, but it fits right at home for a rainy night with your significant other or a solo viewing on a drab and cloudy day. If you’re looking for (an abundance of) gore and jump scares – look elsewhere. But if you’re in the mood for something requiring thought and attention that results in a decent payoff; this one’s for you.
The Sublet had it’s European premiere at Razor Reel Film Festival on November 7th and its North American premiere at Whistler Film Festival will be this December.
The Sublet [Review]
If you’re looking for (an abundance of) gore and jump scares – look elsewhere. But if you’re in the mood for something requiring thought and attention that results in a decent payoff; this one’s for you.