Sensoria Review Director's Cut
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by: Jerry Smith
A beautifully shot and adequately acted horror/thriller, Christian Hallman’s SENSORIA is the type of film that you want to get behind and enjoy throughout the entire running time, but are kept from doing so for a variety of reasons. Dealing with the familiar setup of an individual trying to start over in a new place and said place ending up being a gateway to all things creepy, SENSORIA bypasses originality in favor of quite a few genre tropes that we’ve unfortunately seen a few dozen times before.
Caroline (Lanna Ohlsson), a woman in her late thirties is at a crucial point in her life. Having a recently deceased relative and a relationship that just went up in flames, Caroline is dying for a fresh start and finds it when she moves into an apartment building that you guessed it, is filled to the brim with odd neighbors and an dreadful amount of creepiness going on. While that plot and approach worked well for Polanki’s THE TENANT (which SENORIA owes a great deal to), Winner’s THE SENTINEL or even more recently, Rob Zombie’s LORDS OF SALEM, in SENSORIA,we’ve unfortunately seen every single thing presented time and time again, so even though it LOOKS great and Ohlsson gives a great performance as Caroline, it’s next to impossible to find anything remotely unique or enjoyable in the film that makes you feel like you’re experiencing anything that stands on its own.
Director: Christian Hallman
Writers: Christian Hallman, Måns F.G. Thunberg
Stars: Lanna Ohlsson, Norah Andersen, Alida Morberg
Running Time: 1 hour 21 mins
How It Can Be Seen: Shudder
From director Christian Hallman comes this superbly rendered ghost story about a woman named Caroline (Lanna Ohlsson) who moves into an apartment in an attempt to move on after her family life tragically fell apart.
During her stay she begins to notice strange things and having bizarre dreams. She meets a group of neighbors in her building, some that make her feel uneasy. She also meets a little girl named My (Norah Andersen) who there is more to than Caroline realizes.
Some of what I love about this film, even though the details of Caroline's past is not clear in the story, is the simplicity and effectiveness of the plot. To me that's smart because the film is not necessarily about what happened in her past but it's the journey her past put her on. It's straight forward and perfectly uncomplicated.
The other part of what I love is the cinematography. Like the story, the way it's shot is simplistically beautiful, as well as the editing! It lends itself just right in making the overall feeling eerie and creepy all throughout! Sensoria exacts goosebumps and chills upon you like a swarm of locusts!
I don't know about you but I'll be keep my eyes peeled for more Christian Hallman movies!
Creepy neighbors?, Check. Random creepy children that foreshadows to the finding out of past tragedies?, Check. It’s all front and center and it’s a bummer because you can tell that Hallman is a talented director and that he was working with a talented performer in Ohlsson but even with those qualities, there are only so many times you can see a close up of a tree or stairs with ominous music to try to spook you into a film that tries and tries to build tension but fails at providing a single good scare or even mood to necessitate said scares. It’s a film that also misses its mark when it comes to giving it’s protagonist a good amount of character development. We know that Caroline is fresh out of a bad relationship and that her mother has recently passed away, but other than that, we don’t get to know the character much, instead we’re given Caroline having mood swings, from depression to anguish and a few others but we’re never quite given much else. It’s a bummer because again, there’s a great deal of potential involved in SENSORIA but that potential is never given the material to rise above cliches and tropes that feel like every other similar film we’ve all seen.
Here’s hoping that Hallman returns with a follow-up that focuses more on characters and less on trying to scare its audience, allowing the situations to creep the viewers out, instead of forcing them. If that follow-up looks anything like SENSORIA, then we’re in luck because it’s apparent that the director knows how to get a good film shot, let’s just focus on delivery next time around.