Desolation is a 2018 thriller about a young woman left alone in an actor’s apartment, where strange and scary things begin to happen.
The opening imagery of David Moscow‘s new film Desolation might have you thinking it a horror film, the raw, visceral and jarring sequence setting a tone that is not so easy to forget. Indeed, while the movie might lack many of the traditional horror elements and plays more as a psychological thriller, it is nonetheless an often terrifying experience, even as it can’t always make its admittedly ambitious ideas pay off.
Working at a hotel in a place far from just about anywhere, Katie (Dominik García-Lorido) is surprised by a guest’s sudden interest in her, he being a famous film actor named Jay (Brock Kelly). He’s a handsome, rugged young man whose grown tired of bland scripts and unoriginal screenplays, and after ten years in the business is jaded. The two begin a relationship and he asks her to join him in LA, and once there, she finds his lifestyle hard to adjust to, his apartment building on … let’s say … the creepy side. The neighbors are odd and she keeps having strange visions. When he tells her he must leave for a few days to shoot a movie, she stays behind and now alone, things truly begin to spiral, and Kate kinds herself in the middle of a freakish nightmare.
Desolation isn’t playing by convention, embracing a sort of Lynchian mode of storytelling where we are meant to be feeling off balance. Katie is suffering a clear mental breakdown and yet there are strange forces behind it, ones that have her seeing and hearing some very dark things. She’s already haunted by a truly traumatic incident before she met Jay and now cast alone into his heavily-shadowed home, it’s compounded to a degree, leaving her a little unstable. What makes it all the more troubling are the people she meets in the building, including Father Bill (Raymond J. Barry), a priest living in the building who is not entirely what he seems.
And ‘not what it seems’ is central to just about everything Katie experiences in the halls of Jay’s building, where the impossible seems ready to jump out from behind every corner. It’s hard to keep up, and that’s exactly the point, where we are supposed to question how any of it is possible, or even if any of it is real. What ‘it’ eventually is makes for a solid twist though and neatly ties the whole thing together, even if it feels a little out of left field, yet considering the commentary it might be striving for, makes a lot of sense.
Desolation is a stylish thriller written by Craig Walendziak, and Moscow, an actor most would know from his role as young Josh in the Tom Hanks comedy Big – making his directorial debut – isn’t interested so much in the traditional jump scare, even if a few organically show up. Striving more for a long slow curdle, he plays with imagery and angles and mostly succeeds. One gets the feeling there is a lot we should be gleaning from it all, some dark symbolism or metaphor about women and entertainment, and perhaps that is just what it should be. Katie certainly earns her place in it and the final shot is a highly curious bit of madness that leaves plenty to think about.
DESOLATION Opens Theatrically in NYC and LA on Friday, January 26th with Nationwide Rollout to Follow
Movie description: DESOLATION IS A 2018 THRILLER ABOUT A YOUNG WOMAN LEFT ALONE IN AN ACTOR'S APARTMENT, WHERE STRANGE AND SCARY THINGS BEGIN TO HAPPEN.
Director(s): David Moscow
Actor(s): Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik García-Lorido