Director: William Brent Bell. Starring; Rupert Friend, Madeline Brewer, Brian Cox. Rated R. Color. 107 Minutes.
Gothic horror is not my favorite genre in any art form. Yet, I always call any form of artistic expression straight and honest. The quirky films of director Tim Burton’s early work, the dreary pieces crafted in the 1300’s from the classic painter Simone Martini, and the recent death metal band ‘Slipknot’ to name a few all have something to say. It is not my thing, but I always respect art when it is done intellectually. For three quarters of the way during the journey that is the film “Separation”, I was surprised at how the filmmakers were able to create such an uncomfortable atmosphere for the audience without using cheap pop scares. And… then the final act happens and it is one of the worst endings I have seen since the last time I had to sit through an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Blaming director and co-producer William Brent Bell for making a total let down of a movie that shits on itself for no reason is not my intention. It is instead my goal. The full proof of absolutely SUCK-ing reveals itself as the horror unfolds in the form of inhuman dolls coming to life. Picture the horror franchise ‘Chucky’ minus the idea of how easy it would be to simply kick a doll across the room.
The crux as well as hero of this story is Jeff (Rupert Friend)) attempting to keep his daughter for, at minimum, the right to weekend visitations during an ugly divorce with his successful almost ex-wife (Mammie Gummer) . Rupert had a brief successful career for a big comic book writing company in England. Ghost stories that hit yet did not age well like the big boys of the comic world. From there is where the gothic horror themes get their proverbial jollies going.
Multiple characters experience true fear, or do they? My ultimate issue with “Separation” is not centered around the ridiculous premise. Most horror films are all about the unbelievable. Instead, the garbage filmmaking lies in the payoff. How the death of a mother and a haunting is broken down is so convoluted that even the best ‘Green Screen’ work cannot fix what is happening on the screen. “Separation” is not ‘MICHAEL BAY’ level bad in terms of filmmaking, but it is very close. Not a place any filmmaker wants to be.