By Lois Kennedy
Director: Thommy Hutson
Cast: Amanda Wyss, Patrick Peduto, Jamye Grant, Malcolm Matthews
Meridith (take note of the spelling) is a woman living with her ailing, abusive father. He forces her to wait on him and foot, clipping his nails, helping him eat, bathing him. Meridith isn’t allowed to leave the house, talk on the phone, wear lipstick, or even laugh, as all of these things result in devastating rants from her father. After her high school sweetheart suddenly gets back in touch with her, getting her hopes up for a better life, she loses her already tenuous hold on reality.
The title suggests a Freudian philosophy behind the film, and Meridith can certainly be read as having a confused relationship with her father (like how he shows up in her sexual daydreams), who at the same time tries to keep her from growing up and ceasing to be his “little girl.” He treats her like she’s still a teenager, telling her, “I demand your obedience.” She’s indeed stuck in the past, with her room full of stuffed animals and ’80s décor. If you want to go full Freud, the id is the part of the unconscious that doesn’t play by the rules—it runs on impulse, like Meridith’s father. Hunger, anger, a complete disregard for Meridith’s feelings—he’s the id without the intervention of the sensible ego or conscientious superego.
Meridith isn’t a terribly likable character, but it’s not hard to feel sorry for her. She’s trapped in her situation, and her fragile spirit is crushed (symbolized by a pet bird in a cage that dies halfway through the movie). The movie’s more tragic than scary, but the claustrophobic set (the whole movie takes place in Meridith’s house) is unsettling. There are a couple of horror movie conventions like jump scares and creepy dream sequences, as well as big-time allusions to Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
I found a lot to like. The cinematography is gorgeous, the score is moving, and the performances are amazing—Amanda Wyss as Meridith and Patrick Peduto as her father (he doesn’t have a name) do very well with what are both challenging roles. The opening creepily sets the tone for the movie, as Meridith muses that she believes her father loved her, but “I also believe that if you love something truly, if you love something completely, you can’t help but destroy it.”
Overall, I was impressed (and depressed). The more I think about it, the more fascinating the symbolism becomes. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for something thoughtful and haunting.