Anguish (2015) Review

anguish2016Anguish (USA, 2015)

Dir: Sonny Mallhi

Starring: Ryan Simpkins, Annika Marks, Karina Logue

UK Première – FrightFest Glasgow 26th Feb 2016

UK DVD April 11th 2016 from Arrow Films

Plot: Tess (Simpkins) is the new girl in town. Things are hard with her Dad over-seas in the military, and having to take medication for various mental health issues. Things escalate when Tess becomes the target of a restless spirit in the town who wants to use her as a vessel and return to the life she left behind.

While it seems that possession and haunting films are still in vogue when it comes to popular horror, Anguish does make an attempt to mix things up a bit. Most notably the film chooses to focus on a possession that is neither a demon or the spirit of some serial killer. This creates an entirely different dynamic, while there is still urgency to end the possession, the lack of an evil force means that the ramifications are unclear.

anguish1Anguish has a lot of potential, especially in the earlier scenes of the film. As well as the attempt at trying to change the possession film formula, Anguish also has very good cinematography. It’s stylistic, often using lingering shots that make you feel uneasy. It’s comparable to the look of last year’s It Follows. As the ghostly presence intensifies we are given some striking scenes that are genuinely creepy. However as the possession comes into full effect, it marks the point where this film starts to lose it’s edge.

As we learn more about the spirit, another teenage girl who’s life is snatched from her by a speeding car, the less suspense the film has. It often hints at an evil, there’s a priest who’s vaguely involved that is kept on the sidelines in case heads start spinning but it never really reaches that point. The film lacks a true villain and without it, Anguish doesn’t really feel like a horror film. There’s little motivation to deal with the possession other than the fact that it is Tess’ body. It almost feels like sisters bickering over shared goods. Like a borrowed t-shirt. The possessing spirit needed to be much more selfish and resentful of Tess, she needs to have a desperation that makes her evil. Sadly it’s just not there.

anguish2Anguish lacks drive. It’s pacing is dead slow and while I waited for it to build up to something spectacular, it never really got there and instead of suspense and dread, I was left with just boredom. In the environment of Fright Fest, there’s good films and bad films. When it comes to judging the bad films I’ve found it difficult to decide what’s worse: films that don’t live up to potential, films that you expect nothing and get less, or films that are just too boring to care. Anguish falls in the third category and I can’t say that I recommend it for that fact. You might find a glimmer of something you like in it, but it’s more likely you might want to switch it off and have a nap instead.


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Christopher Stewart

About Christopher Stewart

Christopher Stewart is a long term horror fanatic. With a fascination for the morbid and bizarre, Christopher enjoys going to horror cons, film festivals, and where ever creepy stuff happens. Short fiction writer and genre-muser over at Christopher can be found in the often-frozen North of Scotland, and on Twitter @horror365.