Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
Anytime a movie needs a remote location where nefarious (non-Nazi) government agents might believably have perpetrated hideous crimes against humanity, Siberia is there to answer the call. They should build a tourist industry around that. “Visit Siberia, where you can enjoy cross-country skiing, vodka tastings and walking tours of alleged genetic engineering labs.”
Entity (Netflix) — Shit title alert! — is just such a movie. Some kind of psychic investigation TV show is on the trail of a bunch of mysterious dead bodies unearthed years ago in the Russian province. They follow a guide who in real life would be the most consistently reliable psychic in the history of the planet, yet they’re totally unimpressed by her flawless intuitions. They treat her like a capable but replaceable sherpa. They certainly don’t listen to her when she tells them to GTFO. Oooops.
The guide leads them to just the sort of abandoned high-tech installation you’d expect to find in a region whose chief exports are rocks and sadness. No one finds it odd that all the utilities are still on. Or that it’s not crowded with starving locals who’d rather take their chances with ghosts than freeze to death in straw huts. Anywho.
For the most part, the movie looks great. One thing I really liked — mainly because it’s so unusual in this era – was that Entity does not strictly adhere to the found footage format. The documentary crew angle lends itself perfectly to found footage, and indeed many shots are from the (often excessively shaky) perspective of the camera. But those are mixed in with third-person views and — mercifully, gloriously — stationary shots using a real, honest to goodness tripod. It feels like finding dry land after being lost at sea.
For a movie that looks really nice at least as far as cinematography goes, the foley work and sound mixing are pretty awful, cartoonish even. Granted, I don’t know what it sounds like when a poltergeist slams a dude into concrete so many times he turns to mush. I’d like to think it doesn’t like a Shaw Brothers fight scene.
Added bonus: I dare you to figure out the timeline for this movie’s backstory. The prologue is timestamped in the 80s, and the events of that scene instigated the abandonment of the facility. But other revelations suggest the facility was still up and running as recently as a few years ago. I warn you in advance so maybe you can work it out. Then again, if you really want to get into the spirit of the movie, ignore my warning and charge right into the haunted torture chamber. I’m sure nothing bad will happen.