Upon watching Last Shift, one of my favourite horror films of 2014, a year filled with fantastic titles, I always wondered whether Anthony DiBlasi just got lucky – as he didn’t make other memorable flicks – or if his talent would ever be shown again in another horror movie.
Extremity follows Allison (Dana Christina), a troubled and horror-obsessed young woman who wants to try an extreme haunt attraction to be pushed to her limit and overcome fears from a haunting past.
And, yes, very much like Last Shift, this is a great horror film.
I’ll keep this review 100% spoiler-free (as always) but, in case you’ll be wondering what I’m on about in certain paragraphs, I’ll be posting a spoiler-filled ETREMITY – EXPLAINED review next week.
Anyway, besides the main plotline – where Allison, together with a Japanese television crew and a guy called Zachary can experience ‘the real-life horror’ of this specific attraction – Extremity presents us with two other storylines: through flashbacks, we see Allison dealing with therapy sessions and we also experience what happened to her when she was just a little girl.
These three storylines make the movie quite confusing and convoluted over the course of first and second act, but a solid script makes them meet during the last act, where everything is explained and tied up together, so that there’s no room for unanswered questions.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Yet, Extremity is perfectly directed even from a visual point of view, due to the competent contrast in terms of colour scheme and cinematography between outdoor and indoor sequences in the main storyline: the great indoor locations look warm, bright and somewhat surreal, whereas the sequences in the snowy outside feel sombre and depressing. This interesting contrast is evident also in the different plotlines, as Allison’s past is shown through a grainy, dirty filter and her therapy sessions always happen in spotless and tidy locations, which are however filmed in a way that makes them look depressing.
Speaking of the main storyline (mainly because I don’t want to spoil the film in case you haven’t seen it), these fantastic visuals combined with a psychedelic use of indoor lights and eerie sound design give it a very uneasy look, which is only enhanced by the mystery of this attraction, where things seem to be even darker than the premise hinted.
In fact, this immersive horror experience promised that
“signing over consent, [the participants] can be touched, bound,
tortured both physically and psychologically”
However, the uneasiness of this premise gets increased by the fact that Allison progressively enjoys more and more everything she’s put through. As a result, Extremity becomes an extreme (no pun intended) horror picture from different point of views: psychological, visual and physical, as you cringe at some of the sequences depicted in the film.
Yet, as you could imagine from the title of this review, Extremity is a rather self-aware movie, filled with clever (albeit a bit superficial) critiques to jump-scares and loud noises in cheap horror flicks, and statements like
“Horror is no better than pornography.
It’s smut, dressed up as entertainment. It serves no greater purpose”
Although Extremity is not the most original horror film ever made, its strength lies in the fact that it takes conventions from many sub-genres, it turns them around and gives them a fresh spin.
I have a few complaints with the movie, none of which ruin the experience in the slightest, with the main flaw of Extremity being the acting: other than the lead girl – whose performance is not mesmerising, but still good enough – the other characters were either not developed enough or not played convincingly. I, personally, wouldn’t have minded this picture to be a bit gorier, whereas they saved the gruesome bits only for the last 20 minutes, which are indeed very intense and perfectly introduce the viewer to a climactic and emotional grand finale.