Back in June, the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival took over Southern California, hosting screenings at numerous locations and featuring numerous genre films that horror and sci-fi fans should definitely keep on their radars in the coming months. Here are my thoughts on three of the movies that I had the opportunity to watch at the festival:
Never Here: Writer/director Camille Thoman’s Never Here was easily the most thought-provoking film I saw during the 2017 LA Film Festival. While I will admit that I don’t 100% understand the direction Thoman was taking viewers throughout the course of her abstract thriller, what I do know is that I very much enjoyed the David Lynch-esque approach that Thoman utilizes to unfold the hypotheticals to her surreal exploration of deceit, identity, and voyeurism, and that Mireille Enos delivers a bold and powerful performance in Never Here that will stick with you for a long time after you’ve seen it.
In the film, Enos portrays Miranda, an avant-garde artist whose installations are so immersive, they take people into the lives of folks who may never had hoped to become an “art project” in the first place, which is how Never Here starts off. Miranda, feisty and determined, has recently infiltrated the life of an unwilling participant and put his life on display for the sake of her latest creative endeavor. Coincidentally, a woman is attacked right outside of Miranda’s apartment about the same time, and her newest installation is vandalized beyond repair. Suspecting that the subject of her latest visual project could potentially be somehow connected to these acts, Miranda embarks on a journey of trying to put all the puzzle pieces of this mystery together, but as she gets closer to her muse, the lines between curiosity and obsession begin to blur, leaving Miranda unable to decipher reality from her own twisted imagination.
As mentioned, Never Here is truly Enos’ film, and Thoman gives her plenty of room to shine, allowing the actress to give Miranda some real texture as a character whose obsessive nature and penchant for unwelcomed voyeurism leads her down a dangerous rabbit hole she might not be able to climb out of in the end. Enos’ male counterparts in Never Here also deliver solid work in the film, including Sam Shepard (who sadly just passed away a few weeks ago), Vincent Piazza, and Goran Visnjic, who leaves a memorable mark even with just a few minutes of screen time.
Considering this is her feature film directorial debut, Thoman has a lot to be proud of with her efforts on Never Here, and for those who dig on a non-traditional approach to crafting a psychological thriller, I’d highly recommend checking it out, if for nothing else but to see what you might come away with from your own viewing experience.
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