Metacritic (2/10), Rotten Tomatoes (*)
Talk about a letdown. Writer-director Alex Garland, who established himself as an exceedingly gifted new filmmaker in “Ex Machina” (2014) and “Annihilation” (2018), has really dropped the ball in this utterly ridiculous mess of a movie. The picture’s ultimately obvious, heavy-handed premise isn’t especially original or revelatory, and, no matter how much the film is dressed up in artful cinematography, a gorgeous production design and other technical accomplishments, it’s not enough to hide the fact that this is a blatant cinematic misfire from someone who’s truly capable of much, much better. This latest offering in the smart horror genre about a widowed divorcee who retreats to the country to recover from her husband’s suicide manages to maintain a certain degree of suspense in the first hour, but it seriously loses it thereafter, mixing pretention, a meandering narrative and plot developments that are utterly laughable (it evoked more chuckles than I’ve uttered at some comedies of late). This is such an awful offering, in fact, that the only reason I didn’t give it a lower score is because of its initial edgy creepiness, its admirable production values and the laudable performance of protagonist Jessie Buckley, who manages to keep this release surprisingly somewhat respectable (at least until the absolutely ludicrous final act). Here’s hoping that the director has managed to purge himself of the innately obligatory clunker that nearly every talented filmmaker has within him/her at some point in his/her career, because that’s certainly what this celluloid travesty represents.