SCALENE (2011) Review


Directed by Zack Parker
Written by Brandon Owens & Zach Parker
Starring Margo Martindale, Adam Scarimbolo, Hanna Hall

More of a drama/thriller than straight up horror, there are some pretty horrific scenes in SCALENE, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to put this one in with the rest of the new horror films. Writer / director Zack Parker shows incredible skill in both writing a fantastic story and making it look distinct on camera. SCALENE tells a story from three vastly different perspectives; a ROSHOMON style story structure where you don’t really understand the entire story without seeing it through these three sets of eyes.

The best part of this film is that it’s trio of stars get to shine in lead roles—roles that they normally don’t get to occupy. Margo Martindale does a fantastic job as the mother of an invalid young man. Martindale is best known for her roles in MILLION DOLLAR BABY and SECRETARIAT, but here she’s allowed to show how multi-faceted a star she really is. She embodies a wide range of emotion here in a believable and grueling portrayal of someone overcome by burden and desperation. Hanna Hall also delivers a slam dunk performance as an overeager and over curious nanny for the invalid. Again, Parker’s (and co-writer Brandon Owens’) script requires her to be both innocent and devious depending on which story you want to believe. The little girl who played Jen-NAY as a child in FORREST GUMP is all grown up in SCALENE, showing that she can act with the best of them. Adam Scarimbolo breaks Robert Downy Jr.’s rule and plays full on disabled here, so probably no best actor nod’s coming his way according to TROPIC THUNDER’s philosophy, but Scarimbolo is brave and highly effective as the invalid man who sustained irreparable brain damage from huffing fumes as a twelve year old and must be taken care of by the main actresses of the film. Seeing this trio of actors play off of each other is a thing to behold.

Though nothing I’ve said so far qualifies SCALENE to be a horror film, it does feature some of the most painfully raw scenes of emotional terror I’ve seen in a long time in a film. The way Parker tweaks and twists the perception ever so subtly as the perspective shifts from one of the three characters to another is intricately masterful. SCALENE is a film that gets under your skin in how emotionally raw it is. It definitely causes a sense of unease that people can be this destructive and one thing all good horror does is embed a sense of unease on a viewer. Sure, squeezing SCALENE into this horror column is a bit of a stretch, but if you’re looking for something gripping, real, and unforgettable, SCALENE is definitely something to seek out when it is released later this year.

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