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Movie Review: Silent Voyeur

Florida wetlands at sunset

Confining a film’s action to just one room for the majority of its running time sounds like a great way for an indie or underground filmmaker to keep costs down. Of course, a filmmaker is going to run into a whole host of other problems by going that route. With just one location, the visual style, the acting and plot is like clutter in a small apartment — a tiny mess looks even bigger. Director Georg Koszulinski does manage to keep a tidy home and has crafted a nifty little thriller here.

The film starts with a visual bang though: A naked guy wakes up in the Florida Everglades. He has no clothes and, just as bad, no memory. Completely unable to remember how he got there, where his clothes went or even what his own name is, his confusion is reflected in his geographical quandary. Sure he can run anywhere, but which direction to choose and what happens when he gets to civilization?

Luckily, “civilization” turns out to be an abandoned home not too far away. Well, not totally abandoned. Inside, a man and a woman hold a shotgun to the head of another man all tied up. Borrowing some clothes from a truck parked outside, Naked Guy covers up, breaks in, wrests control of the shotgun and that’s when the real fun begins.

The girl, Veronica (Lara Sfire), and her boyfriend Randy (Eric Cheek) insist they’re not the bad guys even though they were the ones caught holding the shotgun. They further claim that Naked Guy (Jake Molzan) is Victor, their friend whom the now tied up dude, Logan (Shamrock McShane), left for dead in the Everglades. Veronica and Randy plead with “Victor” to shoot Logan so that they can all escape and be safe.

Logan, however, tells a different story. He claims Naked Guy is actually Tanner, his partner, and that the two of them were hired to torture and kill Veronica and Randy on video. Logan wants “Tanner” to shoot Veronica and Randy so that they can finish their job. But, if “Tanner” is really Logan’s partner, why did he dump him naked in the Everglades?

Koszulinski keeps the dialogue and the pacing of the film pretty snappy for what’s essentially just one long argument. But the script is very smart in how it doles out the information from each side. We’re with Naked Guy here. The audience is just as confused as him and Koszulinski never tips his hand as to which way the story is going to go: Is Naked Guy innocent or evil? Plus, the mystery is moved forward a lot via flashbacks from the competing stories ala Rashomon, which brings the story out of the same room and helps to keep things visually interesting.

The film does have a nice overall look, though. The actual film stock is on the grainy side and gives off the appearance of a sleazy ’70s exploitation picture, which I always felt made those movies seem more “real” for some reason. The only place the film falters a little is in the acting department. Everyone gives it a good try, but some of the delivery comes off as too stilted, which is distracting at first, but once you get into the mystery of the film and are trying to solve it, you tend to just go with it. The real standout among all the actors, though, is Shamrock McShane, who gives the most natural performance and delivers his lines with just the right notes of condescension and confident malevolence.

Silent Voyeur was completed in 2004, which happens to be the same year the first Saw came out. Saw, of course, helped to usher in the “torture porn” subgenre of horror, but that was also mostly about just two guys confined to one room trying to solve a puzzle. Their solution, however, lay in having to mutilate their bodies. Silent Voyeur could almost be considered as “mental torture porn” where the puzzle is solved by the unlocking of one’s mind. Perhaps the horror genre wouldn’t have sunk to such uninteresting lows the past few years if this cerebral little thriller had caught on more than the bloodier Saw.

More on this film: Filmmaker Site


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