Women on the Verge: The Parallel Distress of ‘Krisha’ and ‘Queen of Earth’

Two distinct women, two distinct film, one shared downward spiral.

In Alex Ross Perry’s 2015 film Queen of Earth, Elizabeth Moss plays Catherine, a young woman who has plunged into depression following the death of her father and the dissolution of her relationship. Seeking comfort in a friend (Katherine Waterston), Catherine retreats to an idyllic lake house hoping to recuperate, but once there memories of what and who she’s lost plague her attempts at peace and cause her friendship to fracture, fracturing in turn her mental state even further.

In Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha, made in 2016 but based on a short from 2013, the titular woman is older and somewhat estranged from her family. When she appears out of the blue at her sister’s house on Thanksgiving, it immediately sets everyone ill at ease and throughout the day as she attempts to sweep the bad vibes under the rug and reconnect with her family, the uncomfortable chemistry between them all causes emotions to flare, secrets to spill, and Krisha to descend into her own mental breakdown.

Can you detect similarities between these two stories? Our own Fernando Andres did as well, not just narratively but cinematically as well in the way these respective directors depict their distinct but parallel mental crises, and in the following comparative video Andres has visually laid out for us just how. From his written introduction:

“…both films are set in a single house, both films use nature and the mundane to evoke tone, and most importantly, both are character studies about broken women who gradually and spectacularly deteriorate throughout the film. While the films are very different in their themes and cultures, it was fun to stitch together a Rorschach test of sorts with their strikingly similar visuals and moments.”

I would add that both deteriorations are spawned by intimacy, the struggle to discover it, nurture it, and perhaps even be worthy of it. Nothing drives you mad like family, either the one you’re born with or the one you forge yourself, and both these films are harrowing and heartbreaking testaments to this.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist