"Symptoms" follows a paper-thin plot line that details a woman who invites a girlfriend to her remote mansion for the weekend, but her true motives come into focus as something far more sinister than imagined. Originally screened at the Cannes Film Festival, "Symptoms" inexplicably became a lost a film in the ensuing years, until being unearthed and re-released on Blu-ray for the twenty-first century.
To put it plainly, if you're looking for a film where things "happen," then look elsewhere. This is a film that never quite entirely gets onto its feet, and instead wallows in its own mysteriousness and atmosphere—and the atmosphere is laid on thick. The camera meditates on the foggy England backwoods, the swampy lake that holds dark secrets, and the dilapidated mansion that is quite literally engulfed in trees and foliage. If nothing else, "Symptoms" is a mood piece, and a fantastic one at that.
Given its sparse scripting, the film demands top-notch acting from its performers, and the audience gets as much with Angela Pleasence in the lead role of the mysterious, violent hostess. She is vulnerable and simultaneously terrifying, and has a compelling screen presence. Lorna Heilbron matches Pleasence as the seductive and insouciant house guest.
Writer-director José Ramón Larraz, who is perhaps best known for his over-the-top lesbian vampire flick "Vampyres," has a consistent style established with this film, and his vision comes across on screen very strongly. Given his notoriety for the aforementioned film, the natural expectation I had for this was along the lines of an exploitation film, but it is far, far from it—it's actually a classy, quiet, and ominous meditation on broken femininity, at times evoking Robert Altman's "Images" or 1971's "Let's Scare Jessica to Death." It is part horror film and part psychological character study, moving along in that order; after the first dramatic scene of violence, the film and its heroine unravel before the audience, and the result is nothing short of compelling.
Overall, "Symptoms" is a phenomenal and under-appreciated horror film. Its status as a lost film has no doubt robbed it of the wider contemporary audience it deserves, but hopefully the re-release of it will attract modern genre fans. I was blown away by the nuance and all-around skillfulness of it. It's a quietly spooky and wildly atmospheric film that is well-acted and well-shot. Truly something to behold for fans of understated cinema. 9/10.
A young woman is invited by her girlfriend, who lives in an English country mansion, to stay there with her. The estate, however, isn't quite what it seems--and neither is the friend who issued the invitation.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
August 17, 2021 at 12:44 PM