After watching younger filmmakers at work, viewers hope to walk away with a bit of pep in their step feeling hopeful about the future of movies. I knew going into Hostile that the horror film was written/directed by teenager Nathan Ambrosioni, and I did leave feeling elated. Not only that, but Hostile was also really good.
It’s obvious Ambrosioni is a fan of the horror genre. The film’s press kit even states, “it was in 2012, when he had just turned 13, that he discovered his passion for cinema after watching a lot of horror movies.” Once you come to terms with how fast time flies (considering the filmmaker was born in 1999), it’s easy to see that love depicted in Hostile. Ambrosioni knows how to pace a silent scene, making the audience squirm in anticipation. He’s also learned to handle subtleties and atmosphere from his first-hand film school.
However, sometimes when you watch too much of something, its impression starts to bleed through. There are a lot of nods throughout Hostile that are reminders of popular horror. When two freaky girls dressed in white gowns start to become allured to a sinister presence, the similarities to the highly successful Paranormal Activity series are uncanny.
I’m willing to give Nathan Ambrosioni the benefit of the doubt though. He shows intelligence towards how rote modern films have become, and decides to occasionally change the narrative to whatever would fit the upcoming scene. A dialogue exchange between two concerned adults could take place standardly, while nighttime encounters are told from first-person perspectives. The filmmaker also isn’t afraid to be creative. A POV taken from a woman undergoing visual medication allows murky, free-forming visuals to play and frighten.
Hostile is disturbing and freaky, and becomes more even creepy when the adult protagonists start giving up on the possessed girls by passing responsibilities to innocent volunteers. Yet another example of how the talented filmmaker realizes there’s more to a horror film than jump scares; although Hostile has a lot of those too.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie