#REVIEW The Wasting

The Wasting (2017) is a psychological horror film written and directed by Carolyn Saunders.  It is based on a true story. 

Lauren McQueen gives a stellar performance playing Sophie, the protagonist.  She plays a young woman in love with sexual longing battling possessive parents, an eating disorder and an evil supernatural presence. The film dramatizes Sophie’s attempts to break free from the controlling influences of her parents but things spiral out of control. 

Alexz Johnson plays Grace, her devoted, best friend.  Brendan Flynn plays Kai, Grace’s boyfriend and Liam’s brother.   Sean Stevenson plays Liam, Sophie’s love interest.  Gray O’Brien plays IIyas, her overly protective and controlling Chechen father, and Shelagh McLeod plays Valerie, her loving and controlling mother.

The film opens with a wide angle shot of a long take of an overcast river landscape.   Leaves are fluttering in the wind, and birds are chirping.  The camera pans across to a girl sitting on a stone bench lost in her thoughts.   She is in focus and as are her immediate surroundings but there appears for a fleeting moment on the greens in the background a blurred image of a person moving towards Sophie and then, the unknown person disappears from view.  Sophie’s father, IIyas shows up, and asks her to join him on a walk but she declines him wishing to remain in on her own. 

Sophie’s attempts to break free from the controlling influences of her parents, her hallucinations and the supernatural occurrences weave themselves throughout the narrative creating fear, drama and suspense juxtaposed against the bucolic, quaint English countryside.   

Johnson, Flynn and Stevenson give poignant portrayals of their characters.  I was moved by Grace’s unwavering support and advocacy for Sophie, and by Liam’s love especially when he drew a small ink outline of a heart on her palm to symbolize his love. 

The Wasting is a visually appealing film juxtaposing the real and unreal which leave you guessing and questioning what is really happening.   Is Sophie a young woman truly battling a supernatural presence or deeply disturbed?   Is she sane or insane?  Is she being perceived inaccurately by others?  Close ups and medium angle shots are interspersed with wide angle shots of the English countryside.  The continuous 360 degree camera shot involving Sophie, Grace, Kai and Liam sitting in a circle outdoors enhances the drama adding an additional layer of complexity to the film, and creating a feeling of motion sickness.   And the scenes involving Sophie, Liam, Kai and her father IIyas trapped in the institution’s decrepit, dank, and dark basement are both nail-biting and bewildering.  If you want to find out what happens to Sophie, well, you’ve got to watch the film.

The Wasting is a provocative film. Fans of the psychological horror genre will love it.  Saunders has woven many visual and sound elements to create a compelling film that shines a light on perception and reality. 

IndieCan Entertainment releases The Wasting on Friday, March 2 at 1:30 P.M. and 6:45 P.M. at Carlton Cinemas

Tickets can be purchased here

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