Therapy Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Lighthouse Productions
Written and directed by Nathan Ambrosioni
2016, 96 Minutes, Not Rated
Screened at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival on October 16th, 2016
Nathan Ambrosioni as Sebastien
Thierry Azzopardi as The Watchman
Vanessa Azzopardi as Stephanie
Luna Belan as Olivia
Nathan Ambrosioni is just 17 years old, but you wouldn't know it from his terrifying full-length feature Therapy. A combination of found-footage and police procedural, Therapy follows the exploits of five young campers as they take a break from city life for a relaxing weekend in the country. But the spot they've picked isn't as tranquil as they hoped. Not with all that screaming.
The found footage is the stronger half of Ambrosioni's film. The location chosen for the camping and romp through abandoned buildings that all found films need to contain is very good. The building is so dilapidated it's easy to get disoriented along with the characters and it's so incredibly dark in the French countryside that the camera lights only extend ten feet. When the stalker is introduced, the chase is on and it is suspenseful. The cat-and-mouse carries on a bit too long, but Ambrosioni does know how to keep one guessing as to what's going to happen next.
There are some pretty glaring problems with the police investigation storyline that I suppose can be overlooked for his age, but as his audience is adults, I must mention them. The police are finding this footage as it's happening, which is impossible. GoPro camera only uploads to your app if you ask it to do so, and it's established by Olivia (Luna Belan) that she has the only phone and her battery is dead. They also seem to be collecting footage from the DSLR Sebastien (Nathan Ambrosioni) brought for a film class project, but again I have to ask how they're collecting those videos without having the SD cards in hand or no possible wireless network in their campsite.
The improved acting of the lost teens also makes a lot more sense than the adult police officers looking for them. Nathalie Couturier does a beautiful job emotionally connecting to her character as Jane, the frustrated lead detective, but her motivation is unclear. Why does she yell at the happy-go-lucky tech department? Why do we need to know about her relationship with her ex to see her do her job? Why would they not wait for backup if they know the stalker has a weapon and they've seen him injure people on camera? It doesn't hold water.
I will absolutely commend such a young filmmaker for a huge endeavor. Directing actors twenty years older than him, selecting beautiful composed shots, actually going into that hair-rising abandoned building to shoot; Ambrosioni has proved he's got the chops to make an entertaining movie. He needs guidance to edit his writing, but he has plenty of time.