Threshold - Threshold (Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2021]
Threshold is a low-key psychological thriller-come-road movie, with touches of occultic horror and light humour. The film is a prime example of modern ultra-low-budget filmmaking, as it was shot on two iPhones, with a key cast of just two people, and a crew of three. From Arrow Video( in both the UK & US) here we have a Blu Ray release of the film- taking in two commentary tracks, and a good selection of other extras.
Threshold is from 2020- and it’s the second film co-directed by Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young. Their first film been 2015’s Bastard, which was seemingly an interesting blend of serial killer & slasher. Considering it was filmed on iPhones, Threshold looks most impressive- with a good blend of classic cinematography and more grainy travelogue type footage. The film was apparently largely improvised with from the two lead actors taking a twenty-one-day trip across the states. It runs one hour and thirty-seven minutes, and at points, we do get a few moments of lull/ drag- but largely it’s a fairly engaging- at points charming and chilling blend psychological thriller and road movie drama.
The film introduces us to Leo(Joey Millin)- a once edgy teen punk, who now’s turned into a rather stayed/ responsible 30 something high school music teacher. At the start of the film, he gets a phone call to inform him that his sister is in a bad place. So he jumps in his old sticker-covered teen car, and sets off on the few hours journey to see his sister. When he gets to her apartment building no one seems to be about, though a strange, red-clothed figure rushes past him- he keeps banging on her door, finally breaking it down. Here we find his blond-haired and skinny younger sister Virginia (Madison West)- seemingly fitting and throw-up, he really starts to panic, then she oddly suddenly stops. We find out sooner enough Virginia has a difficult drink and drug-taking past, so Leo suggests she should go back into rehab. She declines this offer and explains she had got involved with a cult, and when she wanted to leave, they cursed her. The curse ritual, which she passed in and out of, found her been bound to another man- to who she says she is connected to. After a little convincing Leo decides to go and hunt for the man- so the films key tension/ pull ‘n’ push is down to whether she’s truly cursed or just a junky back on drugs again.
Both Millin and West are good and effective as the film leads- the former has a real charm/ light humour to his character, and the latter more taut angst/ unease, though there are still likeable edges to her character too. They come across as a believable brother and sister team, and really this and their relationship is at the centre of the film. The whole thing is well scored with pulsing-to- atmospheric 80’s focused synth-scaping and beats.
Moving onto the more psychological thriller moments here, and these of course are largely brought about from the key plot point of whether or whether not Virginia is cursed. Though they do meet a few strange/ quirky characters along their road trip, and these give some nice tense-to-creepy-to-jumpy moments. We also get very subtle and fleeting occultic horror elements- and these are done well enough, but I won’t detail what they entail as they’d be big plot spoilers. On the whole, Threshold is a rewarding blend of the low key thriller and road movie genre, with two good/ effective leads…just go into expecting that, and not an occult road movie that some of its promotional material suggests.
I was watching a screener link of the film- so can’t comment on the extras- so instead here’s a list of what’s on the disc, and as always it’s an impressive selection of stuff from Arrow Video. Two new commentary tracks- one with Powell Robinson & Patrick R. Young, producer Lauren Bates and lead actors Joey Millin and Madison West. And the other with directors Powell Robinson & Patrick R Young, and editor William Ford-Conway. Crossing the Threshold, a feature-length documentary on the making of Threshold. Elevating iPhone Footage: Color Correction Breakdown. Something from Nothing: Indie Genre Director Roundtable moderated by Scott Weinberg with directors Powell Robinson & Patrick R Young (Threshold), Brandon Espy (We Follow You), James Byrkit (Coherence), Zach Donohue (The Den) and Elle Callahan (Witch Hunt). The Power of Indie Horror - Acting for Unconventional Film roundtable discussion moderated by Zena Dixon with the actor's Madison West and Joey Millin (Threshold), Kelsey Griswold (Followed), Gabrielle Walsh (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) and Ryan Shoos (The Gallows). The Sounds of Threshold original soundtrack, Threshold original outline script and trailer/ image gallery.
Arrow Video has managed to pick up and release another decent/ interesting indie genre film with Threshold. And once again done a great/thorough job with its release extras, I’ll certainly be interested in seeing future work from all involved in the film too. If you like character-based road dramas/ thrillers I’m sure you’ll enjoy what we have here, just as I said early, don’t go into expecting loads of horror elements here, as they are very slight/ fleeting.Roger Batty