Friday, July 14, 2017


Dallas Hallam & Patrick Horvath’s Entrance is a horror film about a recent Los Angeles transplant ("Suzy") who cant find her groove/footing in her new west coast surroundings. While that sounds like a standard plot that's been told a million times, this is a unique horror film with multiple layers & double meanings. The first layer is the slow-burn story of a woman being stalked by a violent mysterious figure. This basic idea is nothing new. Horvath & Hallam just kind of turn things up a bit and use the horror genre as a vessel to get a deeper point across. This is actually the second layer of Entrance. The politics within the film double as a sort of commentary on the harassment that women often have to deal with. In this climate of "post-horror" nonsense, a lot of horror films aren't given the credit they deserve beyond gore & jump scares from critics who don't fully understand/respect the horror genre. Entrance is incredibly personal. Co-director Patrick Horvath revealed to me that some of the genesis of Entrance came from very real life stories & experiences from the women involved in the movie both directly and indirectly...

That was definitely our main intention though, essentially the heightened fear of the day-to-day experience of a woman...
A lot of those scenarios came from Suziey, Karen and Dallas' wife Michelle. I mean, you know, sans serial killer.
- Patrick Horvath

All the scenes of Suzy walking down the street alone passing by male pedestrians is reminiscent of the infamous street harassment video that went viral a few years ago (for those that don’t know or remember – a “social justice warrior” strapped a hidden camera on himself and followed a paid women/model around and recorded all the harassing comments & gestures she endured throughout the day). While the video (shown below) is quite different than Entrance, they both still share some of the same strands of DNA (that street harassment video also has layers of race baiting and questionable editing, but at the end of the day, some men can be pretty disgusting and disrespectful to women and I guess that’s the ultimate point).

Entrance highlights the realism of the harassment that women deal with. I often hear my lady and her female friends talk about the potential dangers & fears of walking to and/or from a train station late at night or, depending on their moods, how uncomfortable they (sometimes) feels next to men or groups of men when they're alone (even if the men they are around aren’t even conscious of them or have any kind of bad intentions).

Note the number of times we see Suzy walking alone with tight/protective boy language with an unknown man behind or next to her.

Suzy walking alone with tight/defensive body language

And look - I'm a large man that lives in crowded-ass New York City. A lot of men end up being in close proximity to women with absolutely no bad intentions. Some places are crowded and there's nothing that can be done about it. And some people don't always grasp the idea of personal space. But there is a physically intimidating presence some men do intentionally use around women.

In my opinion, Dallas Hallam & Patrick Horvath travelled down the same path as films like Peeping Tom, Psycho, & When A Stranger Calls kind of created but then they went a bit further and added some necessary social commentary. The violence against women in the aforementioned films are obvious but it just kind of stops there for some people. There are certainly knowledgeable critics who have called out violence against women on the big screen long before it became popular, but those people are still outnumbered by audiences who seem to get off on violence against women. Entrance makes it clear that empty violence against women (on & off film) is a serious problem that is often fetishized.

I don’t want to turn this review in to an ironic twist of a male critic (…me) forcefully urging other women to see this, but it is an important film that I strongly recommend to women who take a special interest in female safety, feminism and/or violence against women (especially in film). There’s also something kind of refreshing about the fact that two male directors seem to “get it” when it comes to that kind of stuff.
The only potentially challenging thing about Entrance is that a lot of it is very (intentionally) mundane. A lot of people hate “boring”. Personally, I love boring when it’s done right (like in the case of Entrance). But the boredom in Entrance takes on a kind of metta level because a big part of the film is an exercise in boredom and the mundane day to day life some of us live in. Much like Michael Haneke’s The 7th Continent, the boring and the mundane is part of what makes Entrance truly horrific. Monsters, Zombies and murderous stalkers are certainly scary, but not as scary as loneliness, depression, living your life set to an alarm clock, living pay check to pay check or not finding your footing in a new city. These are some of the things that our protagonist deals with in Entrance. To be honest, Entrance is a horror film for mature adults with a good attention span and an equal appreciation for horror & experimental film.

I think this movie might be off-putting to others because it’s so real & relatable (just like Haneke’s 7th Continent). We wake up every day and go to work, get frustrated, dream of things we’ll never attain and find disappointment in our commutes to & from work in real life. Movies are an escape for a lot of people. Why would you want to spend the few hours of free time you have watching sad/scary elements of your real life on TV? So Entrance isn’t for everyone (sorry to the filmmakers if I’ve discouraged viewers). But that’s what makes it special at the same time. The folks who “get it” will appreciate Entrance to the utmost.

How often do you see a modern horror film compared to the work of Michael Haneke? And Haneke is my own comparison. Some of you may find this hard to believe but The Dardenne Brothers (and their Belgian elder Chantal Akerman) played a part in the inspiration of Entrance.

That summer when we conceived it [Entrance], Lorna's Silence came out and it also happened to be when Zombie's Halloween 2 came out.
We were lamenting how a slasher film would be a lot more interesting as a Dardenne film, and so it went.
- Patrick Horvath

Entrance / Lorna's Silence

Subconscious shades of Chantal Akerman (left) in Entrance (Right)

But all artsy references aside, this is a film directed by a team responsible for The Pact 2 & one of the stories in Southbound (two projects that came after Entrance, but still). So they understand horror. Entrance is a breath of fresh air within the horror genre and shows that Hallam & Horvath have the chops to step outside of the traditional horror tropes. Or...they have the chops to take traditional horror tropes and deconstruct them in to something new & fresh.

And if you’re looking for a co-sign from within the world of horror then look no further than Stephen King...

This is a very interesting low-budget? almost no-budget? film. Suzy (Suziey Block) is a pretty young barista living a barely middle-class life in Los Angeles. She has a roommate and a lovely dog named Darryl. For the first 60 minutes of this scant 84-minute movie, we see her going through her routine, almost the same every day. It becomes clear that she is disconnected from any real, vital life but perhaps too emotionally numb to be lonely…although she senses something is wrong. She brings a fella home from a bar and stares blankly up at the ceiling as he makes love to her. No distaste, no disgust, also no excitement or pleasure.
Little by little, we realize that something is VERY wrong with Suzy’s life. Her dog goes missing, and this becomes the emotional center of the movie. I was deeply moved by her halting efforts to get him back and by her breakthrough sadness. There’s no movie music, the actors are not professional, and for long stretches, nothing seems to be happening. But my anxiety built up almost to Blair Witch Project levels. You know something awful is going to happen, and there comes a point when you wish it would, so you could relax. Finally it does. I was really astounded by how much the filmmakers (Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath) did with so little, especially when Horvath’s only other picture was a slasher job called Die-ner (Get It?) -Stephen King

It really is worth the wait if you sit through the first major chunk of Entrance because there are plenty of entertaining elements to counter the experimental qualities that some may not be used to. Whats also great is that this is a fun second viewing because you want to go back and see if you missed any small/minor details.

But at the end of the day, the very real depression & loneliness in Entrance is what makes it a horror film in my eyes.


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