A young woman, in desperate need of a job, takes a hotel position in a small town where she ends up fighting for her life. Besetment is a horror/thriller movie based in Oregon. It focuses on a backwater town and specifically a hotel in that town known as The Oregon Hotel. It is quite nice to see a horror movie coming out that isn’t focused on ghosts or possession. Instead the horrors here are all man made, or woman made.
Brought to us by Uncork’d Entertainment, Besetment is due out on VOD on the 6th of June and will also get a DVD release on September 5th. Besetment is written and directed by Brad Douglas and has been awarded first place at the recent Rhode Island Vortex Horror Film Festival.
The film focuses on Amanda Millard, played by Abby Wathen (The Bay). We see her desperately trying to find work and are told about issues with her mother and how she needs money to be able to support herself. Things are looking bleak though with no opportunities presenting themselves. Suddenly, completely out of the blue she gets a phone call offering her an interview. Things are looking up for Amanda at last.
Of course they are. She finds out that the offer has come from the owner of a small hotel in a small town quite far away. The owner of the hotel is Mrs Mildred Colvin, played by Marilyn Mason (The Trouble With Girls). She seems lovely on the phone and explains how desperate she is for a helper around the hotel.
We get a nice little insight into Amanda’s reasons for needing a job when she returns home to borrow petrol/gas money for the journey. Her mother, played by Lindsea Klein, is the definition of a deadbeat. Hanging out with and being hung out of by younger guys. She likes a drink, and a few substances more powerful too.
Eventually Amanda has her petrol and is off to find The Oregon Hotel. Upon arrival we get to see the little town, and frankly it would be enough to make a non-acted person turn around and say nope, this is the sort of town people get murdered in. It is deserted, except for a few dangerous looking rednecks. It is broken down and dusty and looks on the verge of disappearing from existence. At least The Oregon Hotel looks nice and homely.
Mildred is lovely, she is helpful and comes across like a gentle old dear. She makes Amanda some lunch, shows her around, offers her the job and even gives her an advance to help her with fuel to get home and pack her stuff.
Amanda is happy with her change of fortune thanks to the adorable Mildred and heads off excitedly in her car. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get far when her car breaks down. A creepy looking, and simple, local approaches and scares Amanda a bit. Eventually she agrees to let him tow her back to the hotel where he says he can fix the car. Viewer suspicion is rising now.
Upon returning to the hotel, the simpleton called Billy (Michael Meyer) is revealed as being Mildred’s son. We get a glimpse of a different side of Mildred as she orders and bullies her son around. It seems Amanda is stuck for the night. As a viewer, you expect her fortunes to change now but we are quite nicely tricked here as she wakes to a fixed car and heads home to get her bits. Another fight with her mother sees her soon back at the hotel and working away under Mildred’s guidance.
All is well. The End.
Well, that would be a twist right? Instead things start changing. Mildred and Amanda have a few too many drinks one night and Amanda wakes up feeling pretty horrific. A shower leads to her needing to head off into town to pick up some tampons. Here she meets the nice owner of a rough looking café. He tries to flirt with her but gets nowhere.
Amanda continues to work, Billy continues to be a nice simpleton and Mildred continues to be a lovely old dear. As a viewer, you start wondering what, if anything is going to happen. Never fear, some pretty extreme sickness is just around the corner.
Without giving too much away, Mildred is not all she seems. A mother’s love is powerful and she loves her son. She loves him enough that she is determined to ensure he gets a complicit and loving wife and she has chosen Amanda.
Cleverly we find that we are only watching parts of the story. Amanda very suddenly gets sick and a doctors visit explains that she is pregnant. She is baffled by this news as she is a virgin. I am baffled by this news because I haven’t seen anything untoward. In a very well told story, we find out that we are essentially only seeing the story as Amanda does. Mildred explains that she has been drugging Amanda leaving her out for the count for large chunks of time. Time we haven’t seen but now get through flashbacks.
In these times, Amanda has been violated in the worst way possible and is now carrying Billy’s child. Billy actually has a moral compass despite his immaturity and bullying mother. Amanda was made pregnant in a different way and not directly by him. Brad Douglas gets 10/10 here for making the viewer uncomfortable with one of the most depraved and sickening scenes I have had the horror of watching in a long while.
As Amanda suffers horrific torture both physically and mentally at the hands of our once lovely old lady, the police get wind of her being missing and her location. The film’s latter section becomes a race against time. Can the police get to Amanda in time to save her? Will it be too late? What will happen to Amanda if the police don’t reach her in time?
Once the real film ends, there is a little glimpse forward in time which is nice and creepy but is so disjointed from the rest of the film, you should really stop watching before it. It doesn’t ruin the film. It is just a little unnecessary.
Besetment has a lot of good things going for it. Firstly, the acting is exceptional. Amanda is fantastically believable but Mildred and Billy are exceptional as well. As the main cast, they work brilliantly well together and help you get sucked into the story. The story itself is an old idea but told with a freshness that is really welcome. There is real care taken with the pacing of the tale. It is well executed and helps to build tension and keep you guessing as to the real motives of Mildred long into the movie.
The cinematography is very good as is the use of the locations, all which add to the overriding feeling of something being not quite right. The horror in Besetment is different. There are no demons and exorcisms just like there are no hauntings and ghosts. This is human horror. That makes it completely plausible and that is truly horrific. One or two of the scenes will make you fidget uncomfortably and a film that invokes a feeling like discomfort is a film done well. I can easily see how Besetment won an award and wouldn’t be surprised to see it pick up more once it is released.
Is it perfect? No. I really don’t see the point in adding the flash forward at the end. It would have been better left to our imagination. I also feel that the meat of the film, the action, all happens very quickly and is over in the blink of an eye. I love how much detail and time is given to building the story but felt the big horror at the end could have been extended a few minutes longer. Finally, what is with the police in these “outback” states always being portrayed as bumbling fools. We get another one here called Sheriff Joe Pallin (Greg James) who is a bit of a clown.
I don’t know, maybe that is a realistic portrayal. It just sometimes breaks the building tension so I could do without it.
Still, minor complaints against a film with a huge array of positives. Besetment is well worth your time. Be sure to check it out on the 6th of June. Be prepared for some uncomfortable viewing near the end too.
Horror Movie Review: Besetment (2017)
The Final Score - 8/10