by RJ Bayley
Given its basic premise Virginia Obscura could have been something really good. Main character Virgina drugs and kidnaps three men, one of which she believes to be her father. With them strapped to a chair with a bag over their heads she beats and bullies them one after one. While they recount their stories under Virginia’s questioning they get closer to their kidnapper revealing whether or not they are her father. Its a really strong character motivation which could have meant a strong character in Virginia. Its certainly something worth exploring, but in a remake instead of a sequel, because this film is utterly unengaging.
The opening scene of Virginia questioning her first victim is interminably long and it just goes on from there. It would’ve worked if the film hadn’t just continued to be people in masks talking to each other. No one really show’s their face in this film, and as such we are totally alienated from all characters. Yes, horror villains are historically only shown wearing masks, but that’s because they loom in darkness, rarely coming into full view – less character, more symbol. Here though the villain is front and centre and uninteresting as a result.
It doesn’t help that the actors are uniformly bad, with one of the victims genuinely sounding like Google Text-to-Speech. Some of the dialogue is pretty well written, but the actors just mangle the quality right out of it.
There are sparks of hope: Fully abstract flashbacks are a good idea, the memories of young kids are well done, and the backstory is nicely perverse yet believable. However these ideas are realized poorly or dragged down by the rest of the film.
When films like Memory Lane (2012) cost £300 its troubling to wonder how this film ended up so bad.
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