The Latent Image
the latent image | alexander mcgregor birrell | joshua tonks | jay clift | william tippery | home invasion | mystery | thriller | lgtbq+ | united kingdom | psychological thriller | michael alan herman | danny plotner | brendan haley | cedric andries
Film: The Latent Image
Director: Alexander McGregor Birrell
Writer: Alexander McGregor Birrell
Starring: Joshua Tonks, Jay Clift and William Tippery
This was a movie that I got the chance to see as a screener via Scott Motisko. Knowing that this was a new independent, horror film, I enjoy checking out movies like this as I've seen gems that most might not know about. I was intrigued by this one. I'll admit that I didn't know much outside of release date and that this fell into genre. I do like to come in blind and not be influenced.
Synopsis: a thriller writer finds his story coming to horrifying life when a mysterious drifter arrives at the door of his isolated cabin.
We start this off with someone running through the woods. There is voice-over narration from Ben (Joshua Tonks). He is our writer and I got the vibe that we are seeing what he is writing play out. There is someone after our fleeing person. It doesn't look like they are getting away as we hear a gunshot.
Ben is in the isolated cabin that is from the synopsis. He hears something from the surrounding woods and goes to look. He doesn't see anything and just believes that it is the wind. We see that there is someone out here. This person is credited as the man and played by Jay Clift.
For a bit more backstory, no one knows where Ben is. He got in a fight with his partner, Jamie (William Tippery). Jamie called and left a voicemail, but Ben hasn't heard it. I should point out that Ben is gay. There is a line dropped that makes me think he hasn’t come out yet publicly. Ben also has a vivid imagination. We see a few different times where things play out that aren't real.
There is a scary moment later this night. Ben sees a flashlight shine in the sliding glass door while he’s sleeping. This wakes him up. He goes to check it out to find Clift inside the house. He has bloody hands and is shirtless. He’s also under blankets on the couch. Ben goes to get items to clean and dress the wounds to find Clift has passed out. Ben finds a cross necklace that he lays on the man while he's sleeping. He comments later this partner has a similar one.
The next morning, the two had a chat. Ben inquiries how he got in and it turns out that this man has stayed there previously. He knew where a spare key was. Ben reveals that no one knows he's up here. He offers to drive the man into town to which he agrees. Clift wants to try to fix his car first. Ben is incorporating elements that he sees from this mysterious drifter into the villain of his book. He even has this other man read what he's written. This becomes a creepy back and forth though as neither party trusts the other. For good reason as this trip turns into a nightmare as things are revealed.
That is where I'll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start with a tight little script here. I did see tags on the Internet Movie Database calling this a giallo. I wouldn't put it in that subgenre, but this is a psychological thriller. The back and forth between Ben and the man is great. There are things that we don't know if they're happening or not due to Ben's imagination. We also get things that are said that make you not trust this mysterious drifter, but also made me question if I should distrust him. I thought that was well-done to revolve around just these two.
I'm going to shift away from the story and shift to the best part then which is the acting. Tonks is good as our lead. I like the fact that he wants to be a writer, since this has always been my dream profession. This does well in showcasing it with seeing his imagination play out. I'll come back to this as they play out as dream sequences. Clift is also good as this mysterious drifter. He says things that made me think one way and then he gets scarier as the time goes on. Tippery is good as Jamie. The only other cast members are pictures for missing people. The acting here carries this for sure.
Now I want to shift back over to the story. This is a slow burn. I did find it to be just a bit too slow for my liking unfortunately. Not enough to ruin it. I think part of it is that we get interesting things happen that turn out to be dream sequences. That causes me to shut down almost at once as they feel like a cheat. While thinking about this, I am slightly forgiving since that fits in with the character of Ben. There are a couple that didn't work for me regardless. Things that get revealed with the story later in this were good though. I was impressed there and didn't necessarily expect it to go fully into where it did.
All that is left then is filmmaking. I do think that the cinematography is good. It is able to ramp up the tension with Ben doing things that could get him caught. This is early on when we don’t know if his visitor is good or not. We also know more about both characters than the characters do so that is part of it as well. There aren’t much in the way of effects. This isn’t necessarily that type of movie though. It is more about building the atmosphere and in turn, the suspense. Soundtrack also didn’t necessarily stand out, but it didn’t hurt it in my opinion either.
In conclusion, I thought this was a solid little thriller with horror elements. This feels like it was made during pandemic. We are working with two actors for the most part in an isolated location. It works though in the frame of the story. I like Ben being this inquisitive man with an overactive imagination. We then have this dark and brooding stranger. Both Tonks and Clift do well in their roles. This is well-made. The best part there being the cinematography. This is a decent film to check out. If you want more action, I’d avoid this. If not, it does well in building a creepy atmosphere that I enjoyed.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10