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Dustin Putman

Estranged  (2016)
3 Stars
Directed by Adam Levins.
Cast: Amy Manson, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, James Lance, Nora-Jane Noone, Simon Quarterman, Craig Conway, Joy Sanders, Bob Duff, Faye McLoughlin.
2016 – 92 minutes
Not Rated (equivalent of an R rating for strong bloody violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, February 16, 2016.
When a terrible motorcycle accident leaves January (Amy Manson) temporarily wheelchair-bound and suffering from amnesia, she and boyfriend Callum (Simon Quarterman) decide to visit her parents' secluded English estate while she convalesces. January hasn't seen dad Albert (James Cosmo) and mom Marilyn (Eileen Nicholas) or siblings Laurence (James Lance) and Kathrine (Nora-Jane Noone) in six years, but has no recollection of why she pulled away from them. She hopes that seeing them again will rustle up memories, but it doesn't. Once on the grounds of her family's mansion, January begins to suspect secrets are being kept from her. Something isn't quite right with these people and—more worrisome still—they may never let her leave.

The transfixing directorial debut of Adam Levins, "Estranged" creates an encroaching sense of imbalance and peril very early on, and doesn't let up until the end credits. Taking a subtle, possibly unintentional, page from 1978's "The Legacy," the film traps a couple at a stately gated manor and pushes them to the brink as the threat of entrapment (and worse) builds. Amy Manson carries the picture as January, gaining strength she didn't know she had in the face of the unimaginable, while the actors making up the rest of the family are exceptional at being oddly sympathetic (at least at the onset) and supremely creepy without turning into one-note villains. The secret at the story's core is a bit convoluted and doesn't entirely hold up to scrutiny, but by the jolting finale it scarcely matters. "Estranged" backs January into a corner dripping with dread, and watches through nervous fingers as she works her way out of it.
© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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