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Claustrophobia (2004)

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Plot Summary:
"Everyone is afraid of the imaginary killer on the rooftop, but what happens when three girls are alone in a house and he's not imaginary?"

Review by
Phil Davies Brown
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Review Date: 23 December 2004 My Rating: out of 5


Currently available Stateside under the title 'Serial Slayer' from Lions Gate Films, Writer/Director Mark Tapio Kines has managed to take a very basic and well used premise and make it fresh.

After splitting up with her boyfriend, Lauren (Melanie Lynskey) decides to throw a slumber party for her work colleagues, but a spate of killings in the neighbourhood makes the guests nervous and it ends up just Lauren, her best friend Gina and quirky colleague Grace.

Lauren is really disappointed and decides to call it off, but before they can head home the killer shows up leaving them trapped in the house.

It seems to me that many people who have seen this are missing the point completely. Claustrophobia was never made to be a terrifyingly gory film. It is a social commentary about the loss of community. The fact that a killer is going around in broad daylight offing the residents is brought up, and indeed commented on during the running time. The characters know that people must be able to see him, but they are so scared that they sit back and do nothing to help the girls.

The film offers solid performances from three very talented and well respected actresses and a nice cameo from Judy O'Dea in the tradition of the late great Janet Leigh.

The conversation is fun and so are the girls attempts at escaping, but the film also plays on your knowledge of horror cliches, has a clever cutaway, and one scene that made everyone I watched it with jump out of their seat.

Like any movie, there are niggling aspects, technical and otherwise, but if you pay attention to the dialogue you will see that the story was thought out in advance.

It is interesting to note that whilst the characters are all modern women, their attempts at escaping and indeed fighting back, all include the use of household appliances or involve modern twists on female horror cliches.

Claustrophobia is not a film for fans of gory action packed special effects laden horror romps, it is an intelligent thriller that has strong connections to the horror genre. It may be dialogue heavy, but it's 80 minute running time ensures that it never drags.

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