The closing film at Blood In The Snow this year was Black Fawn's newest offering, The Sublet from John Ainslie.
Left alone with her baby in their rented sublet, Joanna (Tianna Nori) begins to suspect all is not right with their apartment.
I really liked this little thriller. I feel like a broken record at this point, but it seems like each release of Black Fawn's eight picture deal with Breakthrough Entertainment gets subsequently stronger. It may be the fact that The Sublet deals with more visceral and psychological terrors than some of their previous releases, but I felt that this was a top-to-bottom solid production. The construct, which shared thematic DNA with Roman Polanski's Apartment Trilogy (most notably 1976 film The Tenant) was some oft-travelled material, but it was the bits & pieces that Ainslie employed here that really made this work.
The first of these was the casting of Tianna Nori. She was terrific in this, as she not only sold the escalation of her insanity, but also the desperation as she slowly succumbed to it. I thought the scenes where she was pleading in vain to her husband (the also great Mark Matechuk) about wanting to leave were legitimately heartbreaking. Nori ended up taking home the Best Actress Award at BITS this year, and it was well deserved. The first movie I ever saw her in (Tricia Lee's Clean Break) played at this fest in 2013, so it's like things have come full circle.
|Tianna Nori as Joanna in The Sublet.
I must admit that with some of these previous Black Fawn pictures, the dialogue was sub-par, but here I think there were some really powerful exchanges between the two main characters. Writers Ainslie & Alyson Richards were able to really mine common relationship issues and bring them up in those pivotal scenes.
I can't talk about The Sublet without mentioning the apartment itself, as it oozed with character. The rooms and hallways had substantial texture, with snags and grainy wood floors that seemed as much of a threat as anything else that was going on in there. What's more impressive was that it was built from scratch inside a warehouse. Never in a million years would I have guessed that it was not a real location. I can't fully describe how much it added to the proceedings.
Much like my comments regarding Let Her Out, I was really impressed with Shaun Hunter's special effects. His blood work was on point in this, with an especially cringe-worthy scene involving a razor blade.
The Sublet was a solid thriller. You may see where it's going, but how it gets there was really well put together. It also puts Tianna Nori one step closer to stardom because if she keeps putting in work like this, the sky's the limit.