This book oozes secrets.
You all stuffed? Sometimes, you eat so much you feel like bursting. In tonight's entry, we have a book so stuffed with secrets it's absolutely oozing with them. A quick, short movie to tune in to before you enter that hard-earned food coma, and hopefully your synapses are firing hard enough that you don't loose your head - it's time for Residue.
Residue was pitched to me under the "Action and adventure" category in Netflix. Previously, I had just assumed this was some level of straight horror flick - be it one those cheesy comedy ones or intentionally grindy or B type flicks. Instead, what I got was more a bit of a mystery flick that has some horror elements to it. I don't want to throw around the descriptor Lovecraftian, but at the same time I suppose that in some ways it does fit. There do happen to be some weird creatures - although I'd argue they aren't "indescribable horrors" and the entire thing doesn't reek nearly as much of completely loosing your sanity, but lo the concepts sort of still exist through the churning reels of this movie.
First off, it's put together quite well. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the more jarring cuts used to tell a sort of expositional story of the plot didn't leave a few people dazed and confused. The movie's plot plays it fast and loose - it has a single, very basic premise by the time you get to the end whilst being all raveled up in this weird other-worldly yarn. Part of the confusion I see people having is largely going to come from how things are shot to give the user a sense of lost time or missing moments without actually showing the same scene taking place a thousand times (even though there are at least a few where we do in fact watch the same act play out numerous times to drive home the point).
The other main reason I can see people getting a little lost in this one, despite again it actually being pretty straight forward, is that the movie folds in on itself. It's not just a simple "starts at the end" cliche, but like some sort of strange time travel movie it has a knack for taking something from one scene and flopping it into another, creating this strange insanity effect. It's neat and helps to add to that strange feel about the events. Largely, I won't get into the plot here, as the descriptions I've already given are close enough to blowing points of the movie - and with the mystery angle, that wouldn't be real cool (even if they don't really ever set the mystery up as something you'd actually guess from inferring anyways).
Effects work is pretty nice here. The characters are mostly all pretty colorful - such as the criminal wrestlers and rather eccentric hitmen. While most of the costumes in this department are pretty simple - outside the wrestlers - they do help stop it from being a detracting factor from the story (which could use a lot more of your focus than the costume department). For when strange things start bumping, costumes look suitably well done. A creature or two are pretty gross and weird, and some are off just enough to be creepy. Other effects include a particularly nasty shotgun to the head, which is great for those who appreciate a little gore in a movie, but perhaps might be a bit much when the blown up head gets more usage later in the movie. It's nothing that's so real it's stomach turning (at least for me), but It's only fair I point it out.
Actors do a good job here as well. It doesn't always feel like they are giving out the best performances of their lives, but it all has this suitably quirky feeling around it that somehow meshes really well with the oddity of the story. The lead does a good job portraying some of the effects of reading this weird book he's started reading, and his interactions with his daughter when she shows up in the story is best summed up by one of the characters - "cute." None of the actors really phone in their performances here, but that doesn't mean everyone is going to appreciate some of the flamboyant use of language or oddball nature of the characters portrayals lending the movie an almost comical feel at times.
It's hard to really gauge the effectiveness of the plot delivery by the end of this movie. It does a good job of keeping up the mystery, but the only real reveal we get isn't one that we could ever anticipate given the lack of suitable clues. More effective is their use of the horror elements, most of the time shying away from the stereotypical fake-out scares and instead using some clever nothing-till-now spooks. More of the frights could be considered psychological given the nature of the main characters mental state as he continues reading the book, but considering the reach of the weirdness it does manage to still get that physical threat present in the movie.
It's overall more interesting a movie than I had originally thought it would be, but one that I feel would be a harder pitch to the general person than others. The plot isn't really hard to follow, but the intentionally scattered process I can see confusing the sort of person who isn't one hundred percent invested in the movie. The movie itself is put together fine with some good acting, and is largely enjoyable over it's none to oppressive run time. If you want to watch a movie that feels a bit like Lovecraft-light with a simple premise, this is arguably your best recent option around and you will probably find it pretty enjoyable.