Review: ‘Anguish’ delivers a spooky, sensitive tale of possession without the horror antics
A ghostly possession masks itself as mental illness in the eerie and atmospheric “Anguish,” written and directed by Sonny Mallhi. Rather than stooping to horror-genre antics, Mallhi weaves a tale that is spooky but sensitive and focused on interpersonal relationships between mothers and daughters.
Young, troubled Tess (Ryan Simpkins) and her mother, Jessica (Annika Marks), move to a new town, hoping for some peace and a fresh start for Tess, who has long struggled with depression and anxiety. Her father is a soldier deployed to other parts of the world.
There’s a moment where it seems like it will go down a route toward exorcism, but the religious element is more spiritual than ritualistic. The film ends up a lovely rumination on the bond between mother and daughter that transcends death and dimension.
Simpkins gives a captivating, subtle performance as the tortured Tess. Mallhi employs a creaking, rattling, roaring score and sound design to effectively create the dread and tension with distinctive, creative lo-fi imagery to visualize the spectral presence.
No MPAA rating
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood
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