DIRECTOR Evan Kelly WRITER Josh MacDonald STARS Stephen Chambers; James Gilbert; David Patrick DVD & BLU-RAY 25 February
Created by an inexperienced writer and director team, The Corridor displays a sense of raw potential yet to be realised. The appetite of the horror connoisseur is whetted in the opening scenes. A nod to Halloween is made with a first-person perspective through the slats of a cupboard; a well-constructed physical effect is displayed as a knife is stabbed through a hand. Sadly, this does not foretell much of what is to come, and makes the later heavy-handed use of CGI feel even more intrusive.
Writer Josh MacDonald clearly knows how to give characters flaws to construct depth and realism, but lacks the finesse to execute this with subtlety. A recurring problem in the film is the attempt to force an emotion into a scene without having properly set it up; this results in unintentionally uncomfortable moments. An impromptu snowball fight between grown men foreshadows more embarrassment to come, as a remorseful friend asks how to say “I’m sorry” in sign language, by way of an apology. Lack of attention to the small, yet significant, details is epitomised on the pate of a character that is meant to be going prematurely, and ungracefully, bald. Instead of using a balding actor, or a more effective technique of creating the illusion of hair loss, the character’s head is clearly shaved on the top. Like so many other elements of the film, the intention is clear, but the delivery fails.
The director, Evan Kelly, understands how he wants to shoot the film to create immersion, but fails to make it feel natural. For example, the use of a hand-held camera works in some scenes but feels unnecessary in others. These are criticisms in delivery only; credit should be given for attempting to hone the techniques on display here, as new filmmakers continue to push the genre through the post torture-porn years.
The acting begins to gel convincingly at the start of the second act and this provides an effective distraction to the previous shortcomings. There is a genuine interest created in the characters and how their pasts will play out within their current situation. Buoyed by this encouraging development, the film becomes momentarily absorbing, only to dissipate as a result of a series of well-worn tropes. No sooner have they dispensed with the possibility of the supernatural phenomenon being the delusion of a madman, other familiar set-pieces are quickly ushered in. These are used obtrusively and continue for long after their intended point has been made. There is no problem with having a storytelling device, in this case a supernatural corridor, and not explaining its existence or origin. However, having allowed such unbridled freedom within the script it is disappointing that the writer of The Corridor does so little with it, and nothing of any originality.
In the third act, the clunky attempt at irony should be ignored (the psychiatric patient is lucid around his newly insane friends). Instead, there are effective moments to enjoy as the descent into lunacy is conveyed with competent power. However, as in the second act, this standard is not maintained and the ending is ultimately self-indulgent and meaningless, and arrived at via a vague attempt at pseudo-religious subtext, which is thankfully short-lived, yet still manages to implicate Babel, false prophets and crucifixion.
In conclusion, The Corridor is a movie which feels like the filmmakers knew what they wanted to achieve, but were unsure on how to go about it. Whilst it is ultimately flawed, it should be commended for attempting to achieve some originality in the premise and using character-based narrative to drive the plot. Despite being occasionally meritorious, it is not overall a good film, falling just short of the mark.