Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Presence: Horror on a Yacht

Thanks to the Russian oligarchs and Putin, the dictator they funded, big ostentatious yachts are going out of fashion. Recent movies are not helping their resale value much either, because they have become the setting for a lot of misfortune for their owners. Recently, Ruby Rose was the star of the low-rent Die Hard-on-a-yacht, Stowaway. Now, it is time for something supernatural to come on-board. It looks like Jennifer brought something like that with her when joining her pal Samantha on a cruise to Puerto Rico in Christian Schultz’s Presence, which releases tomorrow on VOD.

Jennifer seems to be having a hard time of things after her “good friend” Samantha ghosted her, ambiguously hard.
 Yet, she is still somewhat leery when Samantha suddenly invites her on a cruise hosted by David, a dodgy venture capitalist, who supposedly wants to buy her new zipper design.

David is like the worst
Shark Tank shark ever, constantly overselling her on how much he is going to change Jennifer’s life. However, Samantha is acting squirrely too. Her relationship with David is nearly as ambiguous, which clearly annoys him. Jennifer can tell something is off, but she is rather distracted by her vivid nightmares and visions or hallucinations of “The Presence,” sort of like “The Shape” in the Halloween films, but nowhere near as menacing.

If you have a hankering for sea-bound horror, Rob Grant’s clever
Harpoon is still your best bet. Schultz definitely uses the swanky but ominous yacht to maximize the atmosphere. However, he and co-screenwriter Peter Ambrosio play it way too cute, deliberating keeping key plot points obscure. However, that makes their ending immune to spoilers.

Nevertheless, Jenna Lyng Adams and Dave Davis are terrific, keeping the audience off-balance as Jennifer and Dave. It is hard to pin their characters down, which is cool. Alexandria DeBerry also makes a weird femme fatale as Samantha. Yet, viewers will find themselves distractingly sympathizing with the yacht’s crew, who tend to appear right when Schultz needs a horror movie-victim.

Presence tries so hard to be mysterious, it sometimes forgets it is a horror film. It definitely represents a case of getting too clever for its own good. It is also too downbeat to enjoy the hedonistic potential of its luxurious setting. Not recommended, Presence releases tomorrow (11/17) on VOD.