Starring Patrick McFadden. Rating unavailable.
Vancouverites get one shot at catching this extremely impressive Canadian indie when it screens at the Vancity on Saturday (August 20). Don’t miss it. The story of a Toronto-based Millennial “creative” who abandons the city (on four hours notice, if you’re his girlfriend) for a manful encounter with the West Coast rainforest, The Interior pulls off an unlikely transformation from absurdist comedy to authentically disturbing psychological horror. It barely makes a wrong move along the way.
Facing a serious but undisclosed medical diagnosis, perma-stoned James (Patrick McFadden) burns his bridges with the ass-pickingly “cool” ad agency he works for—hilariously symbolized by his vain boss Mr. Vondas (Andrew Hayes, acting largely through his hair)—and finds himself, some 20 minutes after a blind opening, on a hike through deep forest (actually Salt Spring Island) on the other side of the film’s evocative title card.
So yes, the “interior” here is either James’s possibly ill-conceived version of Walden or it’s the manifestation of his psychic distress. It doesn’t matter which, as McFadden nails down the film’s ambiguous tone with every deadpan eruption of self-loathing, whether he’s fighting with an intransigent tent or screaming like a bitch when that tent is actually breached by something unspeakable.
Writer-director Trevor Juras actually ups the ante like that, and gets away with it, too. Think of Bobcat Goldthwait’s surprisingly effective Bigfoot film, Willow Creek, which Juras then outdoes with his vision of malevolent things inside a pitch-black wilderness, contrapuntally scored by Chopin and often lit by no more than James’s swinging lantern as he tries to escape. (To where? More forest? More dark?) The punchline here is in the shape and nature of those malevolent things, rendered with the same offbeat, even ludicrous charge as the rest of the film.
But this isn’t a horror-comedy, mercifully. The Interior has real laughs and bracing moments of terror, but they collide in a genuinely unique way. Even its laziest moments—the should-be-tired zinger that ends a sequence in a doctor’s office, or another set in an office bathroom—feel totally fresh. It all works as well and as mysteriously as the film’s final haunting image, as if The Interior actually disappears back into the indistinct, liminal space from whence it came. What a beautiful surprise this film is.