“FLYTRAP” (Film Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Lexi Harrington
It’s the surreal acting that generates intrigue as FLYTRAP’s plot unfolds. Austrian actress Ina-Alice Kopp is beyond convincing as an alien pretending to be an attractive human woman. Her stellar performance is much warranted, as this hostage story is largely dependent on the developing relationship between the captive and the capturer. As for the captive, Jeremy Crutchley’s dryly humorous British professor is an entertaining character to be trapped in a Los Angeles suburban house with for one hour and twenty minutes.
Several scenes into the film finds Jeremy Crutchley’s character, sarcastically witty Jimmy, knocking on a stranger’s door when his car breaks down. A glamorous, coyly smiling housewife named Mary Ann answers the door and precedes to warmly welcome Jimmy into her home. The scene that follows is almost painfully awkward, forcing the viewer to experience Jimmy’s unease along with him. Taken aback by the woman’s bizarrely blunt and unabashedly seductive manner, Jimmy is at a loss for how to react. As Mary Ann strikes poses and gazes unflinchingly at him, wonderfully cringeworthy statements pour out of Jimmy’s mouth.
It’s easy to understand why Mary Ann’s presence is so deeply unsettling to Jimmy. For all her polish and poise, there’s something horribly mechanic about her, made all the more evident by her inability to hold something even slightly resembling a normal conversation. “Would you like to reproduce now?” She asks Jimmy, minutes after they meet. The tension is so thick, it seems to ooze out of the screen.
Before long, Jimmy realizes that while he was welcome to enter the house, he’s not free to leave. He finds himself being held prisoner by Mary Ann and Gilligan, played by Jonah Blechman, a man as equally peculiar as Mary Ann. While Gilligan shares Mary Ann’s synthetic mannerisms and plastic expressions, his nature is decidedly more violent than hers. The aliens in human guise are portrayed so flawlessly that they quickly cease to even resemble people. Their exterior looks human, but their mannerisms are so drastically unnatural that they cannot possibly be members of our race. It feels deeply unsafe for Jimmy to even interact with these creatures, much less be locked in a house with them.
The film takes on a calmer pace once the excitement of Jimmy realizing he’s a prisoner wears off. Jimmy’s repeated escape attempts alternate with scenes dedicated to cultivating the romantic bond that develops between alien woman and human man. As Jimmy resorts to pleading for his freedom, Mary Ann’s character grows ever more intriguing. Beneath the calculated Step-ford wife facade, there’s the stirrings of something much deeper. But is it the unfolding of compassion, or a truly sinister core that’s being glimpsed?
The aliens are unarguably fascinating, but the entire film is represented in such a refined style that no gore and precious few alien effects are offered. There’s a lack of visually shocking material, which is a shame; in the rare scene where physical alien traits are portrayed, the effects are excellent, leaving the viewer with a craving to see more.
Much of the film’s tension is constructed in the dynamic of the relationship between Mary Ann and Jimmy. It’s clear that Jimmy’s fate will be bleak unless he can win over this lovely but emotionally glacial being. Each time Jimmy implores her to help him escape, it’s impossible to predict if Mary Ann will begin to thaw. Through it all, Gilligan prowls the hallways, a sadistic presence blotting out Jimmy’s hopes for freedom.
Further anxiety is generated by the genuinely claustrophobic feel of the set. The house is comprised of narrow hallways and low ceilings that box the characters into rooms cramped with furniture. We’re herded around the house like cattle, repeatedly visiting the same few rooms. This confined setting has the effect of making us share in Jimmy’s sense of being trapped. As we’re ushered around in the yellow lamp lit space, the walls almost seem to be closing in on us. In this way we have our own personal stakes in Jimmy’s captivity; we yearn to see the sunlight and the outside, much as Jimmy does. Our liberation seems to be linked with his, as very few scenes allow us to leave the suburban home.
Throughout its entirety, FLYTRAP is rich with unease and subtle tensions. What remains after the film is finished is the sense that a journey to another dimension has taken place. While the film occurs in a house set in a normal neighborhood, the atmosphere inside that home is almost oppressively strange. It’s difficult to forget those walls that were a prison to Jimmy. It’s even harder to shake the sharp presence of the hostile beings that inhabited the house. FLYTRAP offers an unsettling intimacy with exquisitely unearthly creatures.