There’s no doubt that Los Angeles can be a magical city, but for most of its denizens it’s little more than the urban sprawl they call home. In that regard it’s not very different from any other city, but there remains certain expectations in L.A. that something better is just around the corner. Something unexpected will appear if you give it just one more day.
It’s unclear what Suziey (Suziey Block) expected from her L.A. adventure, but whatever dream she once had is long gone. Her days now are little more than exercises in monotony. Wake up, get dressed, feed the dog, walk to her job as a coffee shop barista and then return home for sleep before she does it all over again the next day. She has a roommate and a handful of casual acquaintances, but she’s never really made a connection with anyone (outside of her dog, Darryl).
We follow her through these routine days, often literally from a few feet behind as she walks to and from work, and slowly we start to notice small disturbances. She hears noises in her apartment while showering. A car follows her home from work one night. She’s hit on by a couple very persistent guys. But when Darryl goes missing one night Suziey throws in the towel on L.A. and finally decides to move back home to Michigan.
Unfortunately, she waited too long.
Entrance is being marketed as a horror film, and to a certain degree that’s true, but genre fans looking for a typical slasher may want to look elsewhere. The first two-thirds are a slow burn character study of Suziey and her anonymous existence in the city, and to be honest, “slow burn” may actually be underselling how seemingly mundane and monotonous that first hour truly is. It’d be difficult to fault viewers for losing patience and focus under such repetitive conditions.
But her decision to move triggers a going-away party hosted by her roommate and friends, and it also triggers something (and someone) else. It’s here, in the film’s final third, where that slow build-up comes to fruition. The small, unsettling hints that something is amiss around her pays off in intense and terrifying fashion as this quickly becomes the worst L.A. party since the Manson family crashed 10050 Cielo Drive.
Given the lack of action in the first sixty minutes the film is almost entirely dependent on its lead actress. Thankfully, Block sells the banal with talent and an average-girl likeability and charisma. Her performance, and the time spent with her before anything of note seems to happen, makes her someone whose fate viewers will most likely care about. (Even if she is unaware of the lesson Red Dragon/Manhunter taught us regarding what serial killers do after they remove house pets from the equation.)
Co-directors/writers Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath have crafted an oddly introspective thriller that explores the paranoia and isolation that can settle in when we least expect it. Long takes spent watching and following Suziey reveal a solitary and sad existence that almost overshadows the terror to come. But as the creepiness builds and even the smallest things tease the possibility of danger we see there are worse feelings than loneliness. Like the feeling that you’re not alone…
The Upside: Takes time introducing main character; rare slasher film with something to say; genuinely creepy
The Downside: Suziey gets stupid in final minutes; pace and surface level monotony will lose most viewers
On the Side: Suziey Block may (or may not) be a real life L.A. barista between indie film projects.
Entrance is currently in limited theatrical release and available on IFC Midnight Cable VOD and digital outlets including SundanceNOW, iTunes, Amazon Streaming, Xbox Zune and Playstation Unlimited.