Written by William Borthwick (City Rats, The Passenger) and Simon Fantauzzo (Convenience) and directed by Adam Levins (Population Zero), Estranged is one of the films curated by the FrightFest Presents team and is being released as one of the first phase of six films in time for Halloween.
January (Amy Manson – Not Another Happy Ending) is a young girl who has spent the past six years of her life travelling the world and generally having an adventure. She has met a nice young man named Callum and they are enjoying the open roads of Rio, Brazil on their scooter when disaster strikes. They hit a car and January is thrown over the bonnet, leaving her wheelchair bound and with no memories from before the accident.
Not knowing what to do next, she decides to return to her family. When she arrives home, she gets quite a shock, it is an enormous mansion house in the countryside. They are greeted by Thomas (Craig Conway – The Descent, The Tournament), who introduces himself as her butler and takes her to meet her family.
January and Callum are keen to meet the family, but the reception is strange and they are all rather old fashioned in their ways, having made up the guest room (a mattress on the floor in a disused wing of the house) for Callum, who they blame for putting January in a wheelchair. Her father Albert (James Cosmo – We Still Kill The Old Way, Game of Thrones) makes no bones about wanting him to leave and even offers to bribe him. Her brother Laurence (James Lance – Bronson, Marie Antoinette) and sister Kathrine (Nora-Jane Noone – The Magdalene Sisters, Savage) also seem unsure how to approach her.
January doesn’t feel at all at home with these people and even being there with them doesn’t ring any bells for her. Although her mother Marilyn (Eileen Nicholas – The Quiet Ones) obviously loves her very much, she still can’t relate to her. She begins to suspect all is not as it seems with her relatives and also to wonder why she left six years ago and never came back.
Estranged is an enjoyable film to watch for the most part. It does suffer in places from being a bit vague, not helped in the slightest by the fact that most of the story seems to be explained as it goes through by James Cosmo, who has an unfortunate habit of mumbling unintelligibly, thus leaving you with no idea what is going on even after winding it back several times.
There are also some curious leaps, storyline wise, such as January’s sudden recovery as she randomly jumps up to run across the room, when previously she couldn’t walk more than a few feet. Remarkable.
Having said that, it’s not a bad film, quite watchable and holds your interest right up to the rather surprising ending. A good choice for Halloween.
“You should be ashamed of yourself. I am tired of you behaving like an outsider. You should never have left. It’s changed you. You’re not the same girl, you’re not our Jan.”
Estranged is available to download now on iTunes, Virgin Movies, Blinkbox, Google Play, Amazon, Xbox Video, Wuaki, Talk Talk and Volta.