In my opinion, what the vast majority of movies are missing these days are ideas. There are, of course, different types of ideas, remaking Ghost Dad with Busta Rhymes in the lead is technically an idea. Producing a live action, R-rated sex comedy based on the children’s game Pop up Pirate is one too, but those aren’t the kind of ideas I mean. I’m referring more to the kind of smart, deceptively simple, Twilight Zone-esque concepts that can immediately create a level of intrigue that leaves a filmmaker with half the battle already won. Cube, The Caller, Source Code, each of these movies had a wickedly effective, fascinating concept at its core, something they share with The Corridor, but as I stated before, that’s only HALF the battle won, the other half laying in the execution of said concept.
The Corridor starts off strong with a lively, attention grabbing pre-credits sequence. Tyler (Stephen Chambers) is discovered by three friends cowering in a cupboard near the bloodied corpse of his mother. Apparently in the grip of a psychotic episode, Tyler lashes out, slashing one friend’s face and stabbing another through the hand. We then catch up with the group years later at a remote cabin, where a newly released Tyler has gathered his friends in the hope of building bridges between them while he spread his mother’s ashes.
This early section of the film is handled with skill by director Evan Kelly and his cast. While individually the performances often border on either wooden or histrionic, the cast do a terrific job of selling an interesting dynamic of genuine, loyal friendship undercut with suspicion and resentment, a tone that the alternately sweet and melancholy score adds to nicely. Unfortunately, having set the tone so effectively, Kelly then allows the pace to really drag, several scenes feel unnecessarily drawn out and the movie loses energy and focus for a time.
The action eventually picks up with the discovery of the eponymous corridor, an otherworldly phenomenon that seems to not only bond the group’s minds, revealing dangerous secrets, but also to enhance their neuroses and character flaws, gradually turning them against one another. This leads to an interesting switch in the previous group dynamic, with Tyler’s anti-psychotic medication counteracting the effects of the corridor, leaving him as the only sane one amongst his increasingly deranged and violent friends. This latter half of the movie has as many weak elements as strong. The performances suffer from wild overacting, all but Chambers abandoning any attempts at subtlety in favour of bug eyed ranting and spittle drenched gibbering. The subtext becomes sledgehammer subtle as well, unnatural, expositional dialogue plaguing many of the vital dramatic scenes. On the plus side, there is an authentically crazed and confused atmosphere that gives a strong, identifiable impression of how the character’s creeping madness must feel. One expertly judged sequence features some truly first rate gore FX, it’s a scene of eye watering violence ripe with the kind of pitch black, gallows humour that The Corridor occasionally uses to terrific effect. It’s a confused movie for much of the final stretch, alternating between good and bad rapidly and often enough to be a frustrating experience. Nowhere is The Corridor more confused than in its bizarre, obtuse conclusion. Perhaps that’s totally unfair, maybe it’s just me that was confused, maybe I didn’t get it, but I ended the movie really quite lost and with far more questions than when I started.
The Corridor is certainly worth a watch, the concept is fascinating even if the execution is at times deeply flawed. If you can see beyond some occasionally histrionic performances and frustrating lurches in tone and quality, there is plenty there to enjoy.
The Corridor is out on DVD 25th February 2013.
Director: Evan Kelly
Writer: Josh MacDonald
Stars: Stephen Chambers, James Gilbert, David Patrick Flemming
Runtime: 98 min