Editor’s Note: This review previously ran as part of our Fantastic Fest coverage but with The Corridor hitting limited theaters this weekend, it makes sense to publish it once again.
A sharp twist to the concept of getting together for a boys’ weekend (and the ultimate bizarre response to the influx of Dude Bro movies), The Corridor opts for rounded, deeply complicated characters who have the kind of shared history that is as likely to cause an outbreak of hugs as it is a burst of heated words and violent threats.
The whole messy pile then gets an eyebrow-raising element right out of The Outer Limits dropped on top, and it’s off to the races.
The film opens with a frantic confrontation where Tyler (Stephen Chambers) hides in a closet while his mother (Mary-Colin Chisholm) lies dead on the ground ostensibly by her own handful of pills. A brick wall named Bobcat (Matthew Amyotte), pretty boy named Lee (Nigel Bennett), and Brad Cooper look-a-like named Everett (James Gilbert) bust into the house only to be confronted by a maniacal Tyler who takes a swipe at Everett’s face and stabs Lee in the hand.
Months later, they find themselves at a funeral/reunion at Tyler’s mom’s house in the woods with another childhood friend (Glen Matthews) in tow, trying to reconcile their relationship and deal with a supernatural force that threatens their existence.
What works in this movie works because of the chemistry between the men involved. We don’t have the benefit of finding out who they are before their entire world changes (which is bound to happen when your best friend goes crazy and stabs you), but writer Josh MacDonald and director Evan Kelly do a strong job of delivering the warts and all of life-long companions through this strange new window. Ultimately, they all feel real. They’ve all grown in different directions and become men who wouldn’t give each other the time of day if they’d met in the present, but there’s always some connective tissue that reminds them why they still hang out.
At the heart of the movie is Tyler’s struggle to understand a mind that is betraying him. He doesn’t remember what happened on the day his mom died, and Chambers plays the character with a confused calm that resonates incredibly well. It’s an impossible emotional space – requesting forgiveness and normalcy from friends who are willing (albeit reluctantly) to give the first while unable to give the second.
It’s a pleasant surprise for Tyler when his friends also see the mysterious energy field he discovers out in the forest. With their powers combined, the force expands into a lengthy hallway that seems to both open and invade their minds.
The story then goes off the deep end, but only slightly off the rails. The script could have used another good pass to clean out the moments where it seems like it was handed off to a high school sophomore for polishing. Some of the lines are so on the nose that they feel like a dumbbell being dropped on your face and hurt the momentum of the scene. They are clever indulgences that might work as one-liners but don’t belong here. Fortunately, there are only a handful (or a faceful) of them, but the real mood killer is the repeated use of a particular children’s song that is about the only cliched thing about a flick that seems to give the finger to convention while maintaining its poise.
Where the film heads isn’t exactly satisfying, but it gets points for being a crazier version of Dream Catcher – which is not a quality comparison. The blood is startling not because there’s all that much (there’s not) but because of who and how it gets spilled. These are all simultaneously strong and tenuous friendships that have now gotten a wrench shoved into their spokes. MacDonald and Kelly don’t take that responsibility lightly, which results in a careful film that surrounds you on all sides.
Overall, it leads to a bumpy ride. There are so many great ideas and involved characters here that make the movie soar, but they are slightly undermined by a lack of a harsher editing knife – both at the script level and in post. It’s the kind of movie that has another, better movie hidden inside of it, but it demands applause simply for grinding out unobvious characters who deal with difficult issues when a science fiction fate comes crashing down.
The Upside: Characters written and acted with force, a story that defies convention, and emotionally disturbing violence.
The Downside: A few small holes sink the boat lower, and the effects budget didn’t do them any favors.
On The Side: Seriously. James Gilbert looks like 5% of Peter Sarsgaard was injected into Bradley Cooper. He’s the one holding the rifle in the header image.