Thursday, 22 October 2015

Trick or Treat: The Falling (2015) review

Set in the tumultuous late 60s, with the risk of nuclear war looming on the TV sets, The Falling focuses in on an isolated English all girls school, where the students growing sexual maturity threaten to break the school down. When Abbie (Florence Pugh), a popular and pretty student, confides in her best friend Lydia (Maisie Williams) that she might be pregnant, a whole set of events commence that leads to a fainting epidemic sweeping through the school.

Referencing the "wandering womb" type of hysteria that has plagued women throughout history, Carol Morley keeps you guessing as to whether these fainting episodes that effects some of the students, and even a young teacher, are psychosomatic or indeed a physical symptom of something else. In a interview with a psychiatrist, Lydia angrily states "I feel ill... I resent the fact that we're just seen as emotional."

While not strictly a horror, Carol Morley's The Falling employs techniques from the genre to create a sense of unease in the viewer. Quickly spliced together shots of scenes that don't quite make sense intercept the fainting episodes with some mildly gruesome imagery, enough to dislodge the slightly slower pace that the first third of the film inhabits. Lydia, especially, seems almost possessed by a grief she cannot properly express, not just for Abbie but for her mother, a recluse played by Maxine Peake.

The Falling is an interesting look at a shared psychosis, an almost Victorian response to their burgeoning sexuality. Williams is exceptional as Lydia, a special feat as her characters tilts constantly between being sympathetic and nasty. The soundtrack, composed by Tracey Thorn, lends an unsettling edge to the film, especially as it uses the tinny instruments mainly associated with school orchestras.

Sometimes the pace of the film was inconsistent, as the film almost rushed to the finale to tie up the loose ends. Also, the incest storyline was a little uncomfortable at times to watch. What was the most exciting to watch however was the transformation of innocent school girls to monsters possessed by an unnatural force. It's a knowing, strictly feminine force though, one sent to counter the outdated masculine ideas that these girls are persuaded to live by.



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