Every once in a while I’ll catch a genre film that completely catches me off guard. Sure there are certain films that I don’t expect too much from, but some genre flicks have very common, everyday plot crunches that don’t really sound all that great. Take, for example, THE CORRIDOR, directed by Evan Kelly and written by Josh MacDonald. The description on this one led me to believe that this was your typical friends-gather-in-the-woods-and-die flick. What I wasn’t expecting was to have a wholly original horror film with sci-fi overtones, great acting, and a really intelligent script. I love THE CORRIDOR and am making it my mission that everyone who’s a horror fan sees this film!!
The film opens by putting us in the middle of a “situation.” Tyler (Stephen Chambers) is crouched down in a linen closet with a bloodied face looking at a dead woman laying in the hallway floor. His friends come over and he attacks them with a knife, cutting several of them. Then as the opening credits roll we gather that some time has passed and the five guys are coming together to reconnect and do a little male bonding up in the woods at Tyler’s cabin. Tyler has recently been released from the psych ward, has a fistful of pills to take, but is otherwise good to go. The other friends are Bobcat (Matthew Amyotte), Chris (David Patrick Flemming), Everett (James Gilbert), and Jim (Glen Matthews). They’ve all been friends for a long time and it seems they’ve all drifted apart as life has gotten in the way and carried them all off in different directions.
From the very beginning of this one I knew I was in for something different; something that wasn’t gonna follow the typical killer-in-the-woods formula. The dialogue was intelligent, the characters weren’t broad stroke caricatures, and the shooting style and editing was excellent. As the friends gather we learn a little about them all (don’t worry; there’s NO SPOILERS in this review) and learn how for most of them their boyhood dreams have been crushed underneath the reality of “Everyday Life.” One of them is sterile and is afraid to tell his wife outta fear she’ll leave him; one is an alcoholic who works in a bar; one is in a troubled marriage with a bazillion kids; and one can’t seem to grow up and find a direction in his life.
One night when Tyler is out walking around in the woods to clear his head he comes across something unusual. He stumbles upon what appears to be some weird wall of energy. Investigating it more he finds that it’s more of a corridor (hey; we have the title of the film!!) that seems to get longer. Tyler thinks he’s losing his mind (again) and wants to forget about it. But then he starts seeing his dead mother and knows he needs to reach out to the others. He confides in Chris and the next day they all go out, under the intention of humoring Tyler, to check out this ‘corridor.’ The guys are shocked when it turns out Tyler isn’t hallucinating or losing his mind at all. There really is a corridor made up of some weird kind of energy force out in the woods. The guys are amazed and excited about this find. Almost immediately they all see this discovery as a way to make their mundane lives better. This is the point where I don’t wanna give away anything else about the story. Let’s just say that the story ends in a lot of violence. A lot. But one thing Kelly and MacDonald don’t do is leave us hanging. We get a great explanation as to what’s going on. We come to understand, just as the characters do, exactly what the corridor is and why it affected them the way it did. There’s some really brilliant writing going on here people!!
The first half of THE CORRIDOR is definitely more like THE BIG CHILL than a horror movie. I categorize this in the “slow burn” sub-genre. But don’t think that “slow burn” equals slow. Far from it. There’s a lot going on in this film and Kelly keeps everything moving at a great pace. The last two acts will have you on the edge of your seats (literally), not believing the turn of events on screen. The acting by the entire cast is top notch, and considering the five main actors are relative newcomers (Glen Matthews appeared as a gang leader in HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN), they all exhibit a lot of range and talent and all look comfortable in front of the camera. I bought that they were all old friends trying to reconnect.
But perhaps director Evan Kelly deserves the most praise. He creates a really amazing tone and atmosphere from the first frame that makes you feel ill-at-ease even during the scenes where nothing “bad” is happening. Kelly also gets some really amazing shots out in the woods and uses shadows and light to his full advantage. The editing (by Thorben Bieger) is also extremely well done. Even the opening and closing songs (performed by the Canadian band Great Lake Swimmers) was a brilliant choice in helping set the tone and mood.
I don’t know, everyone; maybe I connected with this movie because I’ve been going through a lot of the same bullshit the characters in this film were going through. We’re all told when we’re young that we can all be “whatever we want when we grow up,” and that the “sky’s the limit.” But after life, after real life, gets ahold of us we (or maybe just ‘I’) realize that we’re not destined for something great. That if we’re lucky we’ll manage to be happy with our lot in life. That the “endless sky” does indeed have a bubble encapsulating it and thereby cutting off most of our choices. Life kinda sucks and what’s really shitty about it is that you didn’t even make the wrong choices. It’s just the way life is. Like I said, it may just be me really connecting with this film, but I loved every second of it. I watched it for the first time on Saturday night about 9pm and when it was over I watched it again. It’s a film that gets better with multiple viewings.
Look for this one on your cable’s MOD/VOD system. What starts off seeming very familiar, BIG CHILL-ish, and ‘meh’ turns into something very original, violent, and intelligent. I can’t recommend this one enough.
Director: Evan Kelly
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer