A girl, Tess, is diagnosed with an identity disorder that may actually be channeling an evil, dead spirit inside of her.
Teen depression is a very real issue and one we as a society should be paying closer attention to. In the age of modern technology, it’s too easy to add fuel to the fire when you have things like cyberbullying, a phenomenon many of us never had to deal with when we were that age. Depression is something I dealt with as a teen, it’s something my daughter dealt with just a couple of years ago and it takes a lot of patience and understanding to get it under control. That’s why I have to applaud the film ANGUISH, though it’s billed as a horror film, it takes great lengths to carefully address the subject in a very real manner while adding in a healthy dose of the creepy. Writer/director Sonny Mallhi assembled a fantastic cast and carefully crafted his script to be a step above what we are used to in a film that deals with possession.
Teen Lucy (Amberley Gridley) and her mother Sarah (Karina Logue) are traveling in their car when the two of them begin to argue over whether or not she can go on a camping trip. Sarah lays down a firm ‘no’ which highly upsets Lucy. While pulled over, she darts from the car in protest only to find herself struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle. We then cut to Tess (Ryan Simpkins) another troubled teen who has just moved to town with her mother Jessica (Annika Marks). Her father is in the military and is stationed overseas. Lucy has some serious medical issues she’s dealing with (anxiety, depression, etc.) that keep her on various medications. One afternoon while out exploring the new town, she comes across a picture and cross on the side of the road that was the place where Lucy died. When examining the picture, an unseen force tries to pull her in. From that moment on, Tess then begins to see unexplained things and her mother believes her condition is getting worse. It’s not the condition, something from beyond the grave is trying to take over Tess’s body and she will have to fight if she’s ever to regain control of it again.
I can tell you right now there will be a lot of trash talking of this film. People are always complaining about how they want something different. When they do get something different those same people are also the first ones to start complaining about it because it wasn’t what was expected. ANGUISH is one of those films, it comes off as if it were a possession film when in actuality, it’s a teen drama with supernatural elements. It’s about character first, it’s about telling a real story first, then it dabbles in the supernatural to complete the narrative. It’s a tightly wound tale that takes a serious look at some very real problems many teens are dealing with. The story does take a slow-moving approach and that may not be for everyone. I, however, thought it was engrossing, largely due to some fantastic performances by a stellar cast.
Ryan Simpkins is on her way to becoming a huge star. Having appeared in films like REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, TWIXT, and A SINGLE MAN, Ryan has already begun her ascent. With the lead role in ANGUISH, she brings Tess to life with a very real passion. Since there is an element of possession, she also has to bring out these other personalities and it truly does feel as if she is a completely different person. The chemistry between her and Annika Marks (who plays the mother) is undeniable. They really put some heart into the picture. There are very few scares but they are timed out quite well and works in their placement.
ANGUISH is a very different film and Sonny Mallhi deserves applause of completing it. After making a film like THE ROOMMATE (which was rather uninspired), he has come roaring back with a vengeance and done something completely different and delivered a heartfelt film while still dishing out a few solid jump scares. Don’t believe everything you hear, give ANGUISH a chance and you may end up surprised. It’s also apparently based on a true story if that peaks your interest. (**** out of 5)