DVD Review: Bloody Good Horror Pic ‘Entrance’ Packs a Genuine Wallop
CHICAGO – The irony of Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath’s immensely unsettling little shocker, “Entrance,” is that it has caused many viewers to exit before the end credits have rolled. A surprising number of critics have complained that the film betrays its audience by setting up a low-key indie drama and then turning the tables in the final act. Clearly, these people weren’t paying attention.
The entire film is constructed like a mounting nightmare, as it follows a troubled everywoman, Suzy (Suziey Block), through her banal daily routine in LA. The editing is so fragmented that the days start to blur into one another. We see her get ready for work, chat with her genial roommate Karen (Karen Gorham) and have passionless sex with a loser who attempts to sheepishly sneak out the next morning. It all seems rather mundane, but it gradually becomes apparent that something is rather…off about Suzy’s surroundings and has caused her paranoia to shoot through the roof.
DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0
If audiences haven’t figured out that “Entrance” is a horror film by its half-hour mark, it’s because they’ve either blacked out or fallen asleep. That appears to be the only logical explanation. Hallam and Horvath do a masterful job of building tension even when nothing particularly urgent is occurring in the foreground. I was reminded at various moments of the Dardenne Brothers’ masterpiece, “Rosetta,” which created suspense by having the camera focus so tightly on its titular heroine that it blotted out the details of her environment. This approach is ideal for “Entrance,” since it captures Suzy’s limited perspective, which remains oblivious to the particulars of her encroaching doom even as her subconscious screams in alarm. There were times when I found Block’s performance oddly unconvincing—especially when she bursts into tears in the solitude of her apartment—yet for the most part, her awkwardness and unease feel entirely genuine. Hallam and Horvath have us wound so tightly in their grasp that their film delivers a jolt even when it cuts merely from indoor to outdoor ambience. The bumps and shudders that reverberate through Suzy’s apartment aren’t nearly as harrowing as the silence that cuts through the air like a butcher knife.
Entrance was released on DVD on September 11, 2012.
Photo credit: MPI Home Video
What happens in the last 18 minutes is more or less what one would expect, but it’s the way in which it happens that frays the nerves. After so many quick cuts, the camera rests on the fate of its endangered heroine for what feels like forever, as she finds her escape routes cut off one by one. These final moments are made to look like a single continuous take (I counted only one obvious edit), which triumphantly achieves what “Silent House” had attempted but neutered with its overbearing score and sound effects (not to mention its own botched finale). There is nothing fun or campy about the violence that occurs—it’s horrendously disturbing and deeply tragic. But it also packs the sort of visceral sucker punch that has been conspicuously lacking in so many modern thrillers. I’ll admit that the final fade out left me feeling frustrated, yet it also makes complete sense in light of all that came before. The final act contains some of the most impressive filmmaking I’ve seen this year and is among the most effective things I’ve seen along those lines since John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” To say more would be unthinkable.
“Entrance” is presented in its 1.78:1 aspect ratio, accompanied by English and Spanish subtitles, and includes a Q&A with another master of modern indie horror, Ti West (“The House of the Devil,” “The Innkeepers”), whose segment in “V/H/S” shares some striking similarities with this film. Block joins Hallam and Horvath on their audio commentary track, while an additional track features the musings of critics David Bax and Tyler Smith, who are best known for the wonderfully titled podcast, “Battleship Pretension.”