Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Desolation: Hollywood Drives You Mad

Think you know how low Hollywood’s predators can sink? Guess again. Katie Connor never asked for fame or even steady acting work. Yet, she become the focus of a twisted psychological fame-game in David Moscow’s Desolation (trailer here), which opens this Friday in select theaters.

Connor does not even know who Jay Cutter is, but the rest of Elmira, New York is excited to have him shooting a movie there, especially Debbie, her bestie and fellow hotel clerk. Connor probably shouldn’t be getting too excited about anything, given her meds and history of mental instability. Nevertheless, Cutter takes an instant liking to her. He sweeps her off her fleet and carries her off to Hollywood with him.

That is where things begin to get weird. Cutter can be a wee bit controlling, but Connor just dismisses it as enthusiasm and the influence of his Hollywood environment. Some of his friends are downright creepy, but they can’t compare to the galloping weird Father Bill in the apartment below. The whole building seems toxic, especially when Cutter leaves for a brief replacement shoot. Connor starts to go the way of Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion, but she will still be tougher to crack than “they” expected.

Not to be confused with Sam Patton’s camping horror film of the same name, Moscow’s Desolation is sure to attract attention in Hollywood for several reasons. Obviously, it is ultra-zeitgeisty, depicting the craven moral corruption of Tinsel Town, at its most predatory. It is also the directorial debut of Moscow, still best known for playing Tom Hanks’ original boyhood self in Big and stars Dominik García-Lorido (Andy Garcia’s daughter and a Magic City cast-member) as Connor. Both equip themselves quite well thoughout.

García-Lorido does indeed show impressive range in the Deneuve-esque lead role. However, the real star is Raymond J. Barry (Sen. Richard Matheson on The X-Files), who has a blast chewing the scenery as the dubious Father Bill. He just blows poor Brook Kelly (not to be confused with Kelly LeBrock) off the screen, as the dull himbo lure.

As soon as Moscow and screenwriters Craig Walendziak & Matthew McCarty start dropping hint, we can pretty much figure out everything going on behind the curtain. However, the execution of the third act is still sharp enough to keep us hooked. Recommended for horror fans, Desolation opens this Friday (1/26) in a targeted release.