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“CURTAIN” (BUFF Movie Review)

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From an early moment in which a typical low fence in front of a Queens, NY apartment building is shot at an angle making it resemble a forbidding barrier, it’s clear CURTAIN director Jaron Henrie-McCrea has a knack for plumbing the scary side of New York City life.

“Plumbing” is an appropriate word in this case, since the weirdness in CURTAIN is centered directly above the tub in the bathroom of one particular apartment. The movie (a festival award-winner playing the Boston Underground Film Fest on Saturday at midnight) begins by dropping a few strong hints about what’s up and then goes effectively into tease mode, as we experience the oddness along with Danni (Danni Smith) after she moves into the place. Happy to be off the couch of her Uncle Gus (Rick Zahn) and striking out on her own, Danni can deal with the fact that her new digs ain’t the Ritz, with just one puzzling exception—her shower curtains keep disappearing soon after she puts them up.

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One of the nice things about CURTAIN is that Henrie-McCrea and co-scripter Carys Edwards don’t belabor anything (the film runs a tight 74 minutes). Danni very quickly discovers what’s happening to the curtains—but the answer only opens up more questions that lead her and her best friend, fellow Whale Savers activist Tim (Tim Lueke), to play amateur supernatural detectives. The trail leads them out to the wilds of New Jersey, where a local loony named Willy (Gregory Konow) serves as their guide, and unfortunately has them crossing paths with the sinister Pale Man (Martin Monahan) and his minions. There are monsters, too (created by busy Tri-State area FX artist Jeremy Selenfriend), which are briefly glimpsed and whose exact nature, like most of the film’s mysteries, is effectively hinted at before the explanations in the final act.

Tautly edited by Eric Scherbarth (who directed the terrific 2009 short SINKHOLE), CURTAIN makes a lot out of its limited locations and cast as the storyline jumps from the city to the woods and back—ultimately doing so within the same scene during the tense finale. Henrie-McCrea has a knack for locating the menacing in the everyday; like Mickey Keating’s DARLING and Perry Blackshear’s THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE, CURTAIN taps into the unease lurking under the surface of New York City life. Unlike those two contemporaneous films, this one has an overt supernatural element, though it’s not your traditional haunting, and part of the enjoyment comes from Tim’s brainstorming of ways to investigate it.

This is one of the areas in which Henrie-McCrea flirts with a comedic element, while keeping the humor rooted in human behavior so it doesn’t become an outright spoof. The amusement leavens the scary moments in CURTAIN, and Smith maintains a sympathetic focus as an immediately identifiable heroine—a single young woman in the city who finds its usual challenges subsumed by the increasingly horrific situation she’s stumbled into, and is smart about the way she deals with it and believably determined to resolve it, even if that means confronting the peril head-on. CURTAIN is a modest film, but one of many creepy and intriguing pleasures, which points to bigger things for its creators while it warrants being seen and enjoyed for its own qualities.

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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