Someone has been ingesting quite a bit of Richard Kelly and Stephen King, namely, the latter’s “The Tommyknockers” and “Dreamcatcher.”
The Corridor, a thriller blending sci-fi and horror elements, is undoubtedly a reflection of some of the abstract qualities peppered throughout Kelly’s Donnie Darko or The Box. Also, I think it owes a great debt to the set-up and ideas of the aforementioned King novels. But that doesn’t necessarily mean The Corridor is a flat-out triumph. Those Kelly/King works cited above are heavily – sometimes laughably – flawed, and The Corridor is rough around the edges as well, however, director Evan Kelly and writer Josh McDonald deserve kudos for their painstakingly layered, absorbing film which will have you guessing at every turn and isn’t afraid to go for the throat.
Charging right out of the gate, The Corridor opens on a scene of violence involving a man, Tyler, holed up in a closet. His dead mother is face-down in the hallway just outside the closet door. When three of his friends make this grim, unusual discovery, Tyler lashes out at them, stabbing one pal in the hand until the other two take him down. Flash forward a few years later and the friends are a bit older, maybe a little bit wiser. Four of Tyler’s friends are now holding a reunion at his mother’s secluded cabin retreat to celebrate Tyler’s release from the hospital. There’s the usual awkwardness and apprehension (since Tyler got a bit “stabby”), but nothing quite matches the discovery they make in the woods: A rippling force field of sorts. Something kinetic and ever-expanding. For this group, it’s also energizing. But something this fascinating and peculiar can’t be all that good, right? Right. This âfindâ begins to have an effect on the gents and things get ugly.
The Corridor isn’t going to off the viewer all of the answers he/she might want. Pay attention, however, and there are enough pieces of the puzzle there for one to draw a decent picture of what’s happening. That’s where a lot of the film’s strength comes from – the mystery and how the information is dolled out. And this info often comes equipped with some unexpected scares. Genuinely good, jump-out-of-your-seat frights. There’s also some straight-up grisly violence, including a believable gore gag that shouldn’t be spoiled.
Yet, while The Corridor delivers on eeriness, bold aggression and tantalizing ambiguity, it’s deterred by amateur performances, some truly sappy drama and one of the worst bald heads I’ve seen on screen in some time.
Stephen Chambers as Tyler took some time to get used to. His mania at the beginning of the film didn’t ring true â it felt over-the-top and forced – but as the story progressed, he seemed to have slipped into a groove that works as a man spiraling into madness, even though he’s the one not going mad. His “pals” deliver variable performances, but I suspect with slightly stronger writing, they could have pulled it off a lot better.
That’s not to say Josh McDonald’s script is awful, obviously. He does a solid job establishing his characters, giving them each a good personal story to work with. There’s the guy trying to have a baby with his wife. The former football champ who is now a bald family man (Hot tip: Don’t make an actor shave his head or wear a cap to demonstrate he’s bald. Looks awful.) The wannabe musician struggling at a bar job, and the wannabe musician whose hand doesn’t function like it used to because, well, his friend stabbed him through the palm.
The groundwork for decent conflict and drama is there. The dialogue is not. Further, there’s a forced nature about the “brothership” among these guys. There are moments in the film that are excessively sentimental and it stifles the tone. And very much like a Stephen King novel, the end doesn’t quite hit a home run.
Still, The Corridor kind of works. You appreciate some of the originality it’s bringing to the table and there’s never a dull moment. Danger is omnipresent – is Tyler going to snap? What is the true power of this sinister corridor and what does it want? I’d say definitely give the film a look if it ever comes your way and find out…