Directed by: Gary King
Cast: Mark DiConzo, Katie Morrison, Elena Sanz
When you’re dealing with an independent film with little in the way of finances or marquee talent attached, you never know what you’re going to end up with. Maybe you get a flick that looks like it was shot in two days by film students after three days of classes. And sometimes you get a movie with a powerful pulse that utilizes every nickel in the budget to create a film that, while flawed, still manages to impress on numerous levels. Among Us falls into the latter category, which could be considered a miracle by many, as the entire team (for the most part) consists of cinematic neophytes.
Writer/director Gary King has been working for a number of years, but he’s shot very few feature length films. Editor Chad McClarnon has only worked on a small handful of films, yet he pieces this one together like a seasoned vet. Leads Katie Morrison and Mark DiConzo don’t have a combined 35 projects under their belts, and both of their ledgers are light on feature films… yet they sell this story with conviction. No, this isn’t the work of an experienced lot, but it is the work of a hungry one.
There may be no “A-Listers” in this group, but the film itself works in contradictory fashion, as it has the refined feel of a costly non-studio film that an accomplished filmmaker put together as a personal passion project. It’s quite evident that everyone involved in the production took things completely serious, and what’s more impressive is, for the most part, everyone rises to a level of surprise greatness that may have even been foreign to all, prior to shooting Among Us.
The story, which focuses on a troubled couple who’ve been forced to move from one residence to the next, each new abode finds them plagued by strange and persistent supernatural occurrences that may or may not directly relate to the untimely passing of their child. Is it a typical haunting tale, or a poltergeist at work? Is it an unrealized possession? Is it the threat of something else entirely, perhaps something capable of taking physical form if need be?
All valid questions. None will be clearly answered. The surprise is entertaining enough to prevent any serious spoiler spilling.
While there are brief moments in which our performers feel just a tad uncertain in front of the camera, a few vocal exchanges feel out of place, and a couple of physical sequences are on the telegraphed side, these are relatively minor qualms to point to. It should be expected to run into a few little snags when dealing with a gang of enthused novices. They deserve respect for what has been accomplished here, even if it isn’t perfect.
I’m not convinced Gary King’s creepy little feature will work for everyone. The core concept isn’t particularly original, and it is something of a slow burn. But, having said that, if you’re a patient film fan and you like your mysteries to take their time in nurturing characters all while allowing conflict and resolution to unfold at a measured pace, this might just be the perfect slice of indie terror for you.
Among Us doesn’t offer a wealth of explosions or atypically pretty faces doing unnaturally perfect things, but it delivers pure entertainment on a very guttural level where powerful performances and measured storytelling still carry a whole lot of weight.