DIRECTED BY: Evan Kelly
FEATURING: Stephen Chambers, David Patrick Flemming, James Gilbert, Glen Matthews, Matthew Amyotte
PLOT: A young man is released from a psychiatric hospital and invites his childhood buddies for a weekend in a cabin in the woods to commemorate his mother’s passing.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: The Corridor leads to a weirdly horrific place, but the word that comes to mind when thinking of it is “solid.” Watching it won’t waste your time if your tastes run towards the uncanny, but it doesn’t belong on any “best of all time” lists.
COMMENTS: A lot of bizarre things happen in The Corridor, but the strangest of all may be when mad Tyler, who stabbed his friend Everett in the hand during a psychotic break after his mother’s apparent suicide, is released from the mental hospital and invites his victim and three other friends to a snowbound cabin in the middle of nowhere for a memorial service for the deceased woman—and they accept. If you buy that, you’ll probably have no problem accepting the notion of a mystical corridor with rippling aurora borealis style walls that descends over the forest and grants a muddled omnipotence to anyone who enters it. The convention of the “cabin” genre is to isolate a small core of actors in the titular location and allow them to party and grate on one another’s nerves for thirty minutes before the carnage starts. Usually, the victims are quickly sketched stereotypes (or archetypes, as The Cabin in the Woods would have it), and here, too, we get the expected division between the social haves and have-nots: the jock and the jerk musician are the cool kids, picking on the brain and the dweeb, with the “nice guy” running interference between the two camps. The Corridor‘s characters, however, are a more grown-up gang of cabin fodder—rather than typical teens just trying to get laid and get blotto, they’re dealing with adult problems like stalled careers, starting a family, and the onset of male pattern baldness. The age shift results in richer dramatic context; the characters are better rounded, with more at stake and deeper histories that make the pranks and jibes they throw at each other reverberate with buried resentments. The opening is drawn well enough that you shouldn’t mind that the movie takes its time setting up the dynamic between the five men before beginning its descent into madness. When Tyler discovers the mystical hallway in the woods and starts seeing visions of his dead mother, the question arises: is his sanity backsliding because his meds are mixing badly with the booze his pals slipped into his juice, or are the voices he’s hearing really emissaries from another world? Don’t expect any unambiguous answers from the determinedly weird third act, where the Corridor grants those who stand within its halls strange powers, like synchronized nosebleeds, super hearing, and, most memorably, unsurpassed skill at rock-paper-scissors. The blood starts to flow and the script pulls a sanity switcheroo or two as the pace accelerates on the way to a reality-busting finale. On the whole The Corridor is a well written and acted affair that delivers a satisfying wallop of schizoid horror, and benefits from a low-to-mid budget that forces it to substitute psychological depth and narrative invention for special effects.
The Corridor is one of those movies that so far has divided audiences and critics. Festival reviewers were almost universally positive, contributing to IFC’s decision to pick up the film for its “Midnight” line of smart horror. Fright flick fans, on the other hand, showed a tepid reception to the film, perhaps because they were hoping for something with a little more gore and a lot less confusion from a “cabin” movie.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“There is a bit of Donnie Darko here and a bit of Stephen King – but more than anything there is a solid character based thriller that leaves you feeling pretty damn satisfied.”–Ryan Aldrich, Twitch (contemporaneous)