Dir: Eric Williford
Starring: Danielle Adams, Marian Liddel, Jose Rosete
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Plot: Natalie (Danielle Adams) awakens to find herself strapped to a chair in a dingy room. A woman dressed in a latex dress and a pink glittery gas mask silently watches over her. There’s a intercom on the wall. A mysterious voice begins to interrogate Natalie. The voice claims to be part of an anti-terrorist organisation and Natalie is a suspected domestic terrorist. Natalie denies everything, and the voice and his gas masked assistant begin to show their unsavoury tactics for extracting information. Can Natalie free herself and save those she cares about?
Natalie’s Lose Lose is the first feature length film by writer director Eric Williford so I’d like to start off with the positives about this film. It’s a very well shot film, professional and stylish. It does plenty with it’s budget,focusing the majority of the film with two on-screen actors in a single room. It’s a combination that worked when Saw did it back in the day when the Torture Porn sub-genre graced our cinema screens.
Unlike the torture films of the past, Natalie’s Lose Lose is a largely bloodless film. While film’s like Hostel relished in the physical torture by cutting Achilles tendons and bathing in blood, this film chooses to go down the mental torture route instead. Natalie is constantly threatened with the murders of her loved ones. Her torturers parade around surveillance photos and videos to prove just how much they know about Natalie. They probe her about the intimate details of her love life, and about her job. The Voice comes across as self-righteous when it’s revealed that Natalie is in a poly-amorous relationship with her boyfriend and another girl, two potential victims if she doesn’t come clean about the domestic terrorist cell that they claim she’s a part of. As Natalie fails to cooperate, the people she care about suffer. The suffering however happens mostly off-screen so the full nastiness of it doesn’t really reach the audience.
The thing about torture films is that the audience should be living vicariously through at least one character. Either you’re thinking how you would deal with the torture if it was you strapped to the chair or there’s the blend of self-righteous, vigilante, catharsis of being in the torturer’s shoes. Natalie’s Lose Lose is supposed to make you sympathise with Natalie, but Natalie spends the whole time arguing with her captives in a “Is that all you got?” level of arrogance. She’s supposed to be a bad ass the whole time. She doesn’t show much in the way of vulnerability so there’s no real reason to sympathise. She seems more bored than scared. If you’re living vicariously through a bored person you’re going to feel bored.
Natalie’s Lose Lose could have used a bit more threat. Natalie doesn’t feel like she’s in danger for the majority of the film because if she dies The Voice doesn’t get answers and the film ends. She doesn’t seem to care too much about her loved ones and there doesn’t seem to be anyway for her to win. While the film is well shot and there’s some great acting from Danielle Adams, it feels like the plot of a short film stretched out to a feature. A good start for Williford, yet not quite as entertaining as I hoped it would be.