An aging artist discovers that his seemingly perfect suburban life is actually a prison conjured by unknown forces.
Bryan Enk is a strange man and I like it. This is the second film from this talented indie director-producer that I have had the pleasure of reviewing and I was genuinely excited for it after loving the first; The Horror at Gallery Kay (written by Mac Rogers and directed by Abe Goldfarb). Enk noted that this film, The Passion of Paul Ross (written, produced and directed by Bryan Enk), was something of a companion piece to the other, so needless to say I was intrigued from the start with high-ish hopes. Was this one going to live up to the quirky, intellectual nature of the “The Horror at Gallery Kay.” or was this to be a new experience completely?
The Passion of Paul Ross is—in one word—trippy. It has more than a bit of that Twilight Zone feel. Ross’ house looks like my grandma’s did in the 80s, with the furniture, cutlery, décor, etc., all feeling familiar but wrong. It’s as if someone plucked that outdated “American Dream” home right out of Plato’s realm of ideal forms.
What Enk does differently is how he tells his stories. He refrains from adopting traditional, tried and tested methods and instead goes very avant-garde—exposing the viewer to strange but believable characters who are sometimes more real than those from “regular” films. He places these characters in spaces that are again familiar yet somehow unnatural or unsettling, using dialogue to set the tone of the film.
The dialogue is especially important, as it was in “The Horror of Gallery Kay.” There are extensive monologues and complex analogies that attempt to convey both the plot and the film’s philosophies, which are oftentimes the same thing. Enk doesn’t shy away from the big questions and instead tries interact with his viewers through complex soliloquies and Socratic-like dialogue. This can obviously be a bit much for those looking to unwind and veg-out to some schlocky horror or sci-fi film. It is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but it will most definitely tickle the fancy of the those that consider themselves arty, philosophical, or intellectual. If the words “indie arthouse” are part of your evening conversations over a bottle of pinot noir and a good Gruyere de Comte, watching a few of Enk’s films will give you hours of good conversation. I really enjoyed the story about the artist who hid from death…it was quite a beautiful fable.
I’ve really never watched a film quite like it, and I’ve watched some of the most obscure films you can imagine. I feel that it is something that will probably be well received critically (at least by those in the indie community) as it is something intelligent and different, but it might be a little difficult to digest for your average Joe Soap; not enough blood, too little action. This is not to say that I’m now climbing up on my high horse…I love all sorts of film. It’s just that horror is probably the most vast, divergent and extreme form of cinema, having something to sate the taste of anyone but oftentimes appealing to a select few. This is one of those cases. It’s a weird film.
The issues? There were a few. Perhaps due to the screening platform used or perhaps due to the recording equipment, the sound quality was not great. The song at the start of the film was beautiful, but the lossy compression or whatever was used couldn’t handle the high notes. Also, at various parts of the film, the sound just broke with certain pitches. This was not a huge deal, but definitely noticeable.
At the start of the film, the acting seems off kilter—not quite at the level expected if compared to “The Horror at Gallery Kay.” This changes as the film progresses…although I’m not sure if the actors and actresses simply got more comfortable with the film and their roles or whether I became more accustomed to the acting. I’m guessing that it was probably the latter. The standout role for me was Becky Byers’ Amity. She has these huge eyes that can convey emotion sans a single word…she can stare through your soul with a glance, or creep you out with a mere twitch—excellent casting. Steve Bishop was decent in his role as Paul Ross, but he never quite matched the intensity that Byers brought to her scenes. Honestly, Bishop seems a little confused for the majority of the film…then again, I was too.
The last act, again like The Horror at Gallery Kay, could really have pushed the envelope a little more or perhaps have been a little less cryptic. The film closes with the same beautiful music with which it began, but I would have preferred something more earth-shattering or twisted over the sagacious and cool-headed outro. I’m not entirely sure if I “got it” to be honest. It was most definitely an interesting journey and something I will remember for years to come—trying to piece together what it was I watched and why the pink was important.
If you are looking for a random thriller/sci-fi/horror for your evening viewing, this is not it. This is something that probably needs more than one watch to fully comprehend. It is an attempt at art via cinema and whether or not it is successful is entirely subjective. Would I recommend it? Yes, but only to a very select few. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.