Haunted by the ritualistic killing of his best friend, a vice detective determined to discover the truth goes undercover into a forensic hospital and is plunged into his own personal hell where demons might be real.
The Harrowing, directed by Jon Keeyes, is a pseudo-psychogical thriller that blends in elements of the supernatural and plenty of hardcore horror-movie blood and guts. The film bills itself as being “in the tradition of SE7EN”, and it is quite Fincher-esque, but in terms of style and cinematography alone, it reminded me more of Fight Club. SE7EN was drab and fey by comparison, all the colors muted, resulting in a washed-out grainy look. The Harrowing is a good-looking film all around: sets, camera work, lighting, CGI, practical effects… it looks better than most studio-backed Hollywood movies. They play with the camera and experiment, which is something I love in any genre. This movie is definitely a feast for the eyes.
Since the movie really hinges on its surprise ending, it is difficult to discuss too much of the plot outside of the official synopsis given above. One thing I will say is that part of the plot hearkens back to the dark ages of civilization, before the advent of modern medicine, when mentally ill people were thought to be possessed by demonic spirits. This idea is brought into the modern world in the movie, which might seem far fetched, but demons are a common delusion for people suffering paranoid schizophrenia or dissociative disorders. For them, the demons are reality; our only touchstone to what we call reality is is through our own individual perceptions, and if those perceptions are skewed, the world can easily become a waking nightmare. It’s a very clever aspect of the story and it puts the viewer in a position of questioning everything they see and hear within the film.
My only issue with The Harrowing is that it lags in the first half. It’s a slow burn, I get it, and I realize they were building towards something, but it dragged in some places. However, once the movie hit its stride, I found myself absorbed by it. The third act is a gloriously delirious mind-fuck. Reality is a rug pulled out from under our feet and you can never be sure if anything that’s happening is a hallucination or some kind of fever-dream or what. Even after the credits start to roll, we’re still not entirely sure what really just happened. The ending packs a hefty punch and bravo to the filmmakers and the cast for delivering a twist that is satisfying and really catches the audience off guard. It’s one of those movies that makes you want to watch over again to see what you might have missed, and there are clues sprinkled without, mostly in the background.
The acting was very well done: most of the film is carried by Matthew Tompkins, who plays Detective Ryan Calhoun. Arnold Vosloo is very memorable as the icy Dr. Whitney; he might be a villain, he might just be a stodgy clinician, and he plays his cards very close to the chest, not giving anything away until the very end.
The Harrowing is a great watch for any horror fan. I really got a kick out of watching this movie. The current score on IMDB is 4.8/10, but I am happy to give it a strong 8.2/10.
The Harrowing is available now on VOD courtesy of Film Mode Entertainment.