Thursday, August 6, 2020

Amulet (2020)

Tomaz is homeless and haunted by memories of war until he meets a nun that gives him direction. He is brought to Magda's dilapidated home where she cares for her dying mother who is confined to the top floor. Over time, he helps them out, softens emotionally, and falls for Magda, but strange events keep happening surrounding her mother.

Amulet is an interesting movie that keeps its genre a mystery right up until the end of the film. We follow Tomaz and his story jumps around in his timeline. While he's awake, it's the post-war existence where he's much more hardened and haunted. While he sleeps, flashbacks to the war play out where he was a sentry at a pretty deserted location. He runs into a woman desperate to escape and he lives with her for a while. The present day timeline echoes the past with Magda and her situation trapped with her mother. In both scenarios, Tomaz falls for what he views as the damsel in distress (which ends up not being reality) and ends up showing his true colors in the end, a turn that I enjoyed. A lot of this part of the film feels more like a drama or romance, which I didn't always connect with. It also makes the film a little slower paced.

The aspect that I especially enjoyed is the mystery around the mother, the creatures, and Tomaz's shaky mental state. The mother seems more than ill with preternatural strength and an overwhelming urge to kill herself to the point where they can't even use power in the house. She's horrifically violent to anyone within her reach and Magda takes care of her as best she can. Tomaz finds skeletal bat-like creatures in the plumbing that he's forced to kill. The practical effects of the creature and the mother look detailed, creepy, and delightfully disgusting. How they connect isn't explained until much later and it's pretty shocking. Tomaz also sees signs and figures appear and disappear, making him question his own sanity. I love mystery, cool creature designs, and questioning the main character's reality.

Amulet is completely different than I expected, skating a line between drama and horror before running headlong into the latter. The horror elements are well crafted and make big twists to the narrative. I wasn't on board with every development, but I had no idea where the story was going and the conclusion definitely surprised me. It was both incredibly disturbing and satisfying at the same time. I recommend Amulet if you aren't in the mood for something fast paced and are in the mood to be surprised.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

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