After barely surviving a motorcycle accident in South America, January, played by Amy Manson, returns to the family home in England to recuperate. With her long-term memory compromised and still unable to walk, she is at the mercy of their hospitality as they isolate her in their stately manor. If only she could remember why she left home in the first place. Well, she’s about to find out…
Out in the middle of nowhere. Cut off from the rest of the world. No WiFi. No iPhones. No technology to speak of save for an old television and a washing machine. It’s a recipe we all know and dread, and for good reason. Because it works so well, especially when it involves someone, a director, who knows exactly what they’re doing. And Mr Adam Levins does this by using the house, its tall, long hallways, its locks, its windows, its cracks under the door – treating it as if it were its very own character.
You may recognise some of the cast for their previous notable work in the world of horror. Nora-Jane Noone doesn’t seem to have aged a day since her stint as Holly in Neil Marshall’s creepy claustrophobic classic, The Descent (2005). Simon Quarterman, January’s boyfriend, Callum, starred in two films by William Brent Bell: 2013’s Wer and infamous found footage flick, The Devil Inside (2012). The wonderful James Cosmo has always been a force to be reckoned with, so is perfectly cast as January’s domineering father.
If there’s only one gripe I have with this fine film, it’s this: the discovery of Callum’s fate. This movie is far too clever for a revelation as ridiculously obvious as a shallow grave dug but a few feet away from a pile burnt familiar clothes. I can forgive the South Park style gunshot wounds. They do invoke a titter.
Estranged is a very well made, suspenseful affair. However, if you’re familiar with this year’s earlier DVD releases, such as Unconscious (2014) and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit (2015), the film’s big twist loses much of its impact. That said, you’ve got to respect a director who can create tension with something as unassuming as an eyelash curler.