One is sort of supernatural, the other sort of slasher, they’re both slow burners that see man pitted against woman, both feature characters dealing with the loss of a child, and they both deliver some thrills, chills, and twists. I look briefly at Observance and The Perfect Husband from Artsploitation Films, one of my favorites studios in recent years.
Cutie Lindsay Farris of the awesome horror flick Primal stars almost solo in this atmospheric film, and he’s shirtless for a good portion of it, which is a plus.
Farris plays a private investigator whose life is in turmoil after the death of his child, leading him to take a job he doesn’t want out of desperation. He hides out in a derelict apartment building observing a woman who lives across the way, and reports daily to his mysterious client on the phone.
The establishment of his isolation takes up a good portion of the film, with only hints of odd things going on in the building, so if you are looking for nonstop scares, you may lose interest quickly. However, the film’s creepy setting, pacing, tone, and psychological suspense remind me very much of Session 9.
The PI experiences weird things – noises in the walls, a malfunctioning shower, dead rodents, disturbing dreams, and even signs that someone has tampered with his stakeout area.
After he has a run-in with a man who gives him a cryptic warning, the paranormal occurrences intensify – black bile, strange voice recordings, and sightings of a female apparition that eventually begins pursuing him through the building.
Yet Observance is simply not an in-your-face ghost movie. The limited haunting episodes help create the foreboding tone that permeates the film and are more a reflection of the dark psychological and emotional state of the character than an attempt to scare the audience. And when the film takes a sudden, jolting turn near the end, don’t expect anything that happened prior to be explained.
THE PERFECT HUSBAND (2014)
While The Perfect Husband also takes place at an isolated location and has a slow, tension-building pace that focuses mainly on the emotional states of the two main characters, it definitely defines a clearer path. Not to mention, when all is said and done, it offers a more concrete plot even after some surprises.
The title alone lets you know what to expect to some extent. Trying to reconnect after the life-changing loss of their baby, a couple heads to a cabin in the woods. The wife is struggling with guilt and suffering from nightmarish daydreams. The husband is on edge and having a hard time coping with his wife being distant.
When the wife has an accident in the woods and is helped by a hunter who brings her back to the cabin, it triggers a deep distrust in the husband, suggesting that there’s more to their past history than meets the eye. Before long, jealousy ignites an insane feud that makes The War of the Roses look like a mere lovers’ spat.
The Perfect Husband suddenly shifts into high gear, verging on torture porn at times and moving into exploitation territory. Grisly and violent, the couple’s battle to the death is loaded with blood and gore, chase scenes, and seriously unexpected “interventions” by other characters, which means a higher body count. The twists and turns keep coming right up until the last person is left standing. This one is definitely more for horror thrill-seekers.