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Review: ‘Desolation’ disturbs in unintended ways

Dominik García-Lorido in the movie “Desolation.”
(Darin Moran)

“Desolation,” actor David Moscow’s directorial debut, is meant to be an unsettling thriller — and it is, though not in the way the filmmaker and screenwriters intended. It wants to be a commentary on the depravity of Hollywood and what people find entertaining, but instead it mostly just mirrors the media’s habit of using sexual trauma as a plot device and surviving such horrors as a character trait.

When Katie (Dominik García-Lorido) meets handsome actor Jay (Brock Kelly), she is charmed enough to leave her home in upstate New York for his Los Angeles apartment. After a short time there, he has to do a shoot out of town, leaving her alone in the building with his quirky neighbors, including a priest (Raymond J. Berry). Katie’s past pain permeates her current life, but when she begins to experience strange events, is it her own paranoia or is she really in danger?

From a technical standpoint, “Desolation” is capably made, particularly in Darin Moran’s cinematography. However, the script from Craig Walendziak and Matthew McCarty is at once ridiculous and regressive. It treats Katie with as much disdain as its villains do, using her gaslighting and torture for entertainment.

As “Desolation” nears its climax and its true nature is revealed, what began as simple silliness quickly turns sour. It attempts to anticipate criticism of its misogyny with a post-credits scene, but it can’t save the preceding 90 minutes from its appalling missteps.

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‘Desolation’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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