Leah (Gaby Hoffman), her partner June (Ingrid Jungerman) and child Lyle have just moved into their new Brooklyn apartment with some big things on the horizon. Leah is pregnant with their second daughter and June’s career is flourishing. After Lyle dies in a tragic accident, Leah’s grieving begins to undo her at the seams. Or at least that is what you’re led to believe.
After some frantic Googling, Leah learns that her new building has a sinister history. Of course, this fuels her paranoia, pushing her to visit her attractive, young model of a neighbour, Taylor (Kim Allen), to find out more about the building’s history.
The narrative simply doesn’t flow. The cinematography and overall production seems clumsy, failing to support the plot in any way. The poor direction detracts from the tension, leaving it to the score to support some kind of eeriness. Early incidents, including the key sequence in which the toddler falls to her death, fail to ignite suspense or thrills, psychological or otherwise.
At times the film seems to be plodding along without purpose. Subplots weave in and out, including an attempt to introduce a satanic plot that barely holds the story together.
Hoffman plays the detached from reality, paranoid and psychosis-driven mother brilliantly. She plays crazy – crazy. Her performance is the best part of this film. There are a few moments in which Hoffman’s Leah loses it in such spectacular fashion that you want to believe you are right there with her. Alas, the screenplay allows for no such connection.
The rest of the cast, including Allen as the aforementioned neighbour, Jungermann as Hoffman’s partner, and Michael Chee as Threes, provide lacklustre performances. Ashlie Atkinson’s psychiatrist seems about as invested in the couple’s post toddler-death grieving process, as one would be of a tepid bowl of pea and ham soup. Thankfully, Rebecca Street’s building manager manages to more or less convince as a woman with a few screws loose.
The film ends and you’re left in silence, wondering how exactly it got there. Only questions remain. What was writer and director Stewart Thorndike actually aiming for? Were the seemingly beige performances from the supporting cast actually meant to juxtapose Leah’s mania? And, perhaps most importantly, who even cares?
The disappointment comes down to missed opportunities. There’s no doubt that Lyle did – at one point on paper – have potential, but it may have ended up translating a hell of a lot better as a stage play than as a film.
THE REEL SCORE: 3/10