There are movies I respect more than I like. The two are, of course, not mutually exclusive, and if I respect a film, I suppose I, in some ways, also like it. Yet, I don’t see a scenario where I would rewatch Threshold for the fun of it. It’s an impressive movie in some aspects: largely improvised and filmed by a crew of three using iPhones, Threshold comes off as something produced on a more substantial budget. As far as a story goes, though, the seventy-eight-minute runtime could easily have been cut down in half. This is a slog of a film.
We follow siblings Virginia (Madison West) and Leo (Joey Millin) on what ostensibly is a road-trip horror movie. Former substance abuser Virginia looks to have relapsed, and it comes as a shock to Leo when he finds her convulsing in her apartment. Things are not what they seem, argues Virginia. She has not relapsed. The cult that got her off the drugs has tied her soul to a man who actually is back on drugs again. Their connection is the source of her convulsions, and the only way to break the bond is to track down the stranger, and… Well, kill him, I assume? I don’t feel that was made perfectly clear up front, but I might have missed something.
Threshold moves slowly. Very, very slowly. Even when the siblings seemingly are followed by the cult, the story veers into early-aughts indie-drama territory, exploring the two’s backstories. I suppose there isn’t anything wrong with that per se, but as the setup is eerie – and as is the ending – the journey exists almost as a separate movie. Threshold would have worked better as a short horror film, instead of what feels like two movies mixed into one.
Even so, this is where the
respect part comes in. The two actors do a great job with what they got to work with, and the dialogue flows effortlessly. Had I not known it was improvised, I doubt I would have picked up on it.
The filming, too, feels a whole lot higher end than something done with two phones. Granted, there is a bit of a lo-fi feel to the production, but that also seems intentional; I doubt more conventional cameras would have changed it.
And that’s the frustrating part. The heart of Threshold is a well-executed story that has been padded with filler. There are things at play with Virginia’s past and Leo’s divorce, but not enough that it warrants a deep dive. The meat of the plot would have been sufficient, but it ends up lost in a sea of not-overly-interesting exposition.
Watch Threshold if impressive film-making is enough to make up for ho-hum storytelling. That’s something I can live with, but your mileage may vary.
Letterboxd summary: A sister, claiming to be cursed, persuades her brother to embark on a cross country road trip to break her spell.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||3/6|