anna nomaly’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Can we watch something happy?”
In 1995, I was three years old, and my bed was stationed across the room from where my parents slept. The bed faced the doorway, and they kept that door open, so when I was lying there at night, if I opened my eyes, I’d see past the door and deep into the dark hallway, spotting everything that wasn’t there. Even at the time, I knew, on some level, I was imagining things. My mind was playing tricks on me, as it often does. But that didn’t matter, because every shape, every color, and every figure I saw was still there: terrifying, relentless, eager to invade the safest place in the world.
I’m so grateful that someone made an entire movie about it. If you close your eyes, you’ll be rewatching it. In its own abstract way, it’s a coming-of-age story about a child’s family unit collapsing, that lack of a safety net giving way to a rudderless, nightmarish parody of life in which home isn’t home anymore. It’s a different experience in a theater as opposed to a dark room with headphones. Alone, it was easily the scariest film I’d ever seen, zero competition, full-on immersion trauma with no need for 4DX.
With other people and with more context, I felt safer and had much more of a “normal” moviegoing experience, but I still marveled at the artistry of it, how simple and effective the setups are, how full of goddamn rockstars the post team was, and how utterly paralyzing its best scares can be. A simple pair of eyes becomes unholy levels of uncanny, rendered like a Nine Old Men creation yet human enough to seem aware that you’re not going to enjoy one minute of what they’re about to do to you.