From Rosemary’s Baby to Alien to Get Out, the sovereignty of our bodies has been a classic trope in horror films and constant source of unease among audiences. Our bodies are each our own sacred vessels, after all, so there are few things as disturbing as contemplating what it would be like to have them co-opted by a racist cult, an alien or the devil himself. Unsurprisingly, motherhood consistently reemerges alongside this trope by positing the most physically selfless act a human can undertake and subverting it with the threat of evil. It’s a tried and true formula within the genre, and one that today’s Staff Pick Premiere, ‘Latched’, embraces and ultimately upends.
Set on a remote and picturesque island, ‘Latched’ tells the story of a new mother (played by Alana Elmer) who goes seeking peace and solace with her infant when she comes across the lifeless corpse of demonic-looking creature. Within the first few minutes of the film, a litany of horror tropes are established. Isolated location? Check. Deadbeat ex-husband? Check. Creepy old man? Check. Cute baby? You got it.
However, this is merely the set up. Where ‘Latched’ takes the viewer in the end is some place altogether different. “Finding a fresh way to build tension and suspense that truly feels original is always the challenge I look forward to the most,” says ‘Latched’ director Justin Harding. “The genre has so many tropes and expectations that are easy to rely on but creating a fresh feeling of dread that you’ve never experienced before is the goal.” The film achieves this by bravely walking a tightrope between horror and comedy, alternating between genuinely creepy reveals of the film’s monster (designed by Rhonda Morley Causton and played by Jarrett Siddall), and bizarre comedic bits pertaining to modern dance and breastfeeding.
It is when these disparate styles converge that the film reaches a crescendo that is somehow as terrifying as it is hilarious. According to Harding, “the climax of the film always, without fail, leads to a full audience squirming in their seats and whispering in panic to each other, which slowly evolves into full out gasps combined with laughter and at least one person always screaming out loud “NOOOOOOOOOO!!” ‘Latched’ will conjure a range of emotions among which disappointment will be nowhere to be found. So, when the trick-or-treaters have gone to bed tonight, turn down the lights fire up this week’s Staff Pick Premiere, but whatever you do, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
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