January 13, 2015 88 (Movie Review)
Katharine Isabelle is fast becoming this generation’s scream queen. Her latest movie, 88, was released on the January 6, 2015 by Wango Films. Her looks, body, and diverse acting chops in movies such as the Ginger Snaps series, American Mary (2012) and Torment (2013) make for a forceful combination, and her role as Gwen/Flamingo in 88 solidifies her place in horror fans’ hearts. Written by Tim Doiron (Dead Before Dawn 3D 2012, The Listener 2013), and directed by April Mullen (Good God 2012, Dead Before Dawn 3D 2012), 88 tells the double time line story of Gwen, an attractive woman that wakes up both on the side of the road, and also, in a diner. Flashing backwards and forwards, Gwen finds herself in the diner with a huge amount of food in front of her, a large glass of milk, a bag full of gum balls, and a gun. She absentmindedly pulls out the gun, creating a frenzy and inadvertently kills a police officer. For that, she draws the attention of the police force, and immediately becomes a wanted woman.
However, Gwen has no memory of what happened before she became reaware or how she got to be there. Gwen sees flashes of memories and dark, sordid visions, but can’t put any of them together yet. She does know that she is missing at least one finger and her clothes and hair are different. She is on the run from the police, but it seems as though there is also someone else after her, a dangerous man named Cyrus (Christopher Lloyd: Back to the Future series, Who framed Roger Rabbit 1988). He seems to know Gwen but she has no memory of him, other than a flash here or there. A man named Ty, played by 88 scriptwriter Tim Doiron, finds Gwen as she flees from the police and is stunned to realise that she doesn’t remember him either, or their plan. Ty knows Gwen as Flamingo and seems to be a big fan of hers. Ty had previously conspired with Gwen to kill Cyrus over the death of his unfortunately pathetic sister, Dakota. Using the information from Ty, as well as her increasingly reoccurring flashbacks, Gwen tries to piece together her memories. She leaves a slew of dead bodies behind her, although she refuses to accept the fact that she’s killed anyone.
Gwen finds the key to a motel for room 88 at the Starlight Inn and heads there. She discovers that there is another dead body in the bathroom and the room is covered in photos of a man named Aster (Kyle Schmid: Lost Girl 2014, Being Human 2014). Gwen is running out of time to figure out what had happened to her and how she got into such terrible trouble. Everywhere she goes, death and violence find her. Gwen discovers she is deeply linked to Cyrus, Aster and a place called the Flamingo Club, which only further complicates her situation. With Sheriff Knowles (Michael Ironside: Top Gun 1986, The Machinest 2004) hot on her tail, Gwen must move quickly to stay alive and out of jail. Tormented by her subconscious, it becomes apparent that at some point Gwen’s mind has shattered, but what isn’t clear until the end of the film is why. With its shifting time frames, 88 is fast paced, tightly wound and highly suspenseful.
Occasionally confusing, but often ingenious, 88 is bleak, exciting and insightful. Isabelle once again shows she is not afraid to take edgy roles, even if it means appearing unglamorous. She does an amazing job showing a visceral emptiness to Gwen. Gwen has a raw pain that is palpable by the end of the story and that will leave tears in the viewer’s eyes. Using similar story elements from films such as Fractured (2013) and The Machinest (2004), 88 is one Psychological Horror not to miss. All of the pieces of the puzzle come together eloquently, leaving the viewer feeling complete but sad. A magical film with plenty of blood and gore to please most Horror fans and enough mind bending plot twists for the rest. Make 88 the first horror movie you watch in 2015. CrypticRock scores 88 5 out of 5.