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Artistic intent only goes so far in Sun Choke, Ben Cresciman’s elliptical look at a woman held captive by an authority figure who claims to have only her best interests in mind. Identifying with Jane (Sarah Hogan), the captive, might be a no-brainer here, but the quasi-thriller offers such skimpy clues about her psychological state that few viewers will be on her side. Uninvolving despite some potentially lurid subject matter, the film will have a hard time connecting with art house patrons.
Hogan’s Janie lives in an airy Los Angeles house — numbingly pale, like the movie itself — where she submits to strange psychological tests from Irma (genre veteran Barbara Crampton). In a calmly stern voice that soon grows monotonous, Irma forces Janie to answer ritualized questions, guides her in strange yoga programs and, responding to misbehavior, fastens a shock-delivering dog collar around her throat.
RELEASE DATE Aug 05, 2016
When she’s able to get out of the house, Janie begins stalking Savannah (Sara Malakul Lane), invading her home when the woman isn’t around and identifying with her personally in ways we can only guess. In a couple of instances, Cresciman’s apparent references to David Lynch hint at some kind of fractured-persona motivation, but even after the closing scenes’ partial explanations, this concept is frustratingly vague.
The plot leans toward conventional horror violence as it progresses, but Cresciman has Hogan and Crampton remain largely affectless, their blank-slate characters doing little to make us respond to the action. In the end, the picture’s unresolved mysteries (its name among them) are likely to elicit more shrugs than anything.
Distributor: XLRator Media
Production companies: Lodger Films, Easy Open Productions
Cast: Sarah Hogan, Sara Malakul Lane, Barbara Crampton
Director-screenwriter: Ben Cresciman
Producers: Georg Kallert, Peter J. Nieves, Rob Schroeder
Executive producers: Ian Keiser, Leigh Jones
Director of photography: Mathew Rudenberg
Production designer: Andreis Costa
Editor: Jason Jones
Composer: Boom Bip
Casting director: Peter J. Nieves
Not rated, 84 minutes
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