My first attempt to write a short screenplay I wanted to try to capture the feeling of depression. Josef Steiff set out to do the same thing in his screenplay for The Other One and succeeded. On the surface it's a creepy ghost story but as he explained at the Q&A after the film at it's heart it really is the story of four women dealing with grief and depression.
The movie is about Amber (Grace McPhillips who also produced) a high school teacher who after a traumatic event that inured her and killed her husband moves back home to take care of her mom. Her mom Vera (Nancy Sellers) is suffering from dementia and is a pathological liar. When Amber starts to uncover secrets from her families past it's hard to tell if what Vera says is another lie or part of the dementia. Also who are the spirits that seem to be haunting the house? Being home also brings up other issues. Amber must now confront her in-laws for the first time since her husband died. All of this while she is still processing her own loss and feelings about what happened.
The movie is slow and deliberately paced. It is not your typical ghost story. The beginning of the movie is almost exclusively Amber and Vera. Then other characters are slowly introduced. It manages to keep the intensity and has a few jump scares. The lady next to kept gasping and everyone was on the edge of their seats. The mystery keeps you wondering and thinking as the movie only gives you a few clues at a time and lets you piece it together. But it's always the relationship between the women that moves the story along.
At the Q&A it was also mentioned that this movie is meant for multiple viewings to pick up all the details. While I admire that, I wish there were a few more details explained better. There is a fine line between having the audience figure things out and force feeding the audience the information. Unfortunately I think it just barely misses the mark. I am not sure general audiences will have the patience to think about it or be willing to revisit the movie. For me it works and had me thinking about it for days. All of the details about her family secret is never fully explained but if you pay close enough attention you can figure it out.
Overall: 4/5 I really liked this movie. The mood and pace were on target. The actors all did a great job and the score matched the movie perfectly. The mystery was interesting. Just wish there were more clues to help us piece everything together.