Lavender (2016)

lavWritten by: Colin Frizzell and Ed Gass-Donnelly

Directed by: Ed Gass-Donnelly

When she was a little girl, Jane (Abbie Cornish) was the only survivor of a massacre that took the lives of her parents and sister. Their deaths are a lingering unsolved mystery, and it appears that Jane might have been responsible. Now she and her husband (Diego Klattenhoff ) are trying to save their foundering marriage while raising their smart, spunky daughter, Alice (Lola Flanery). Jane struggles with memory lapses and doesn’t remember the night of the murders — and she has to confront the possibility that she might be the killer.

(Mild Spoilers Ahead)

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Jane spends her time photographing eerie old farmhouses, often with Alice in tow.  One place particularly calls to Jane and, unsurprisingly, it proves to be the house she lived in, with her family, as a little girl. While Jane traipses around, capturing the character of the place through her camera lens, Alice seems to be communicating with a ghost.

As tension mounts, Jane is in a car accident. It reactivates an old injury, triggering amnesia. To further complicate things, there’s something dodgy about Jane’s new therapist, Liam (Justin Long).

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Trying to put the pieces of her past together, Jane continues to revisit the old house, and she reconnects with her uncle, Patrick (Dermot Mulroney), the only other living person who knew her family.

The opening scene of this movie was shot in an interesting way, and the film is moody and atmospheric, with a rural Gothic feel. It offers lovely imagery, including a somewhat mesmerizing shot of an encounter with a red balloon that mysteriously appears on the old farm.

But all the threads of the plot didn’t quite come together and, more importantly, this was basically a paint-by-numbers horror flick. Creepy old house. Check. Child who communicates with a ghost bearing ominous messages from the past. Check. Amnesia. Check. And all this is tied together by a lifeless performance from Abbie Cornish — Perhaps this is the way her character was meant to be portrayed? — and a predictable twist near the end.

The best I can say about this film is that I enjoyed the cinematography and — having come into it with low expectations, anticipating that it probably wouldn’t show me anything new — I was not disappointed.

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