Horror for some people is comforting like the warmth of the Universal monsters and others. Nothing wrong with that at all as I can respect the past however the other side is the horror that makes you feel uncomfortable.
The Canadian Soska Sisters have once again proven that Canadian storytellers are more than the work of David Cronenberg. In what I think is their best and most dangerous work since the overlooked American Mary (2012) you have the subversive On The Edge (2022) which is actually an exercise in sadism/masochism with loads of devilry, nudity, sex, and kink.
The film begins with a wide shot of an affluent area where politician Senator Coleman (Mackenzie Gray) is preaching on Television about outlawing pornography. Sounding of course like many of the actual people which will become more apparent at the end. Claire (Sylvia Soska dyed a fetching blonde) is making breakfast for her family and is on a video call with a friend. Her husband Peter (Aramis Sartorio) barges into the kitchen knocking over his twin children. (Finn-Morris sisters Brianne and Alanna) food in his quest to get to his mobile phone. Simplistic yes but the reactions of the family show this is not an isolated incident.
Peter announces that he will be in meetings all day and will call when he is settled. On the way to his penthouse suite, Peter notices the maid’s (Andrea Jin) spiked heels which he finds stimulating so he engages her in conversation regarding “extra, extra towels” to be delivered. The maid is clearly uncomfortable with the exchange as well gets a glimpse that Peter may not be just a working guy.
These meetings turn out to be a 36-hour session with Mistress Satana (Jen Soska) where he is subjected to a variety of mental and sexual torments for the better part of the first hour of the film. Interspersed these various exercises in pain, orifice entrance, and screaming, Peter experiences flashbacks in his life,
including a swing set in a park and a teddy bear. The evil that men and yes nowadays women do to others comes to mind.
Mistress Satana had poisoned his drink, which had been provided as a prize for withstanding the dominance. She begins to speak in a demonic voice, letting Peter know that she is much more than what he hired her to be while also engaging in sacrilegious conversation.
The scenes are visceral and wonderfully shot with some subtlety without losing effect. This is not the BDSM and sexual play of Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) which makes the ending all the more plausible if not telegraphed. Effects are practical with flashing lights which perhaps should have been warned about as it can trigger reactions in closed spaces, especially theatres.
On The Edge (2022) is Jen and Sylvia’s film in more ways than one. The actual twin’s duties on this film include co-writing, co-directing, and co-producing as well as starring as leading characters. This is a limited-budget film, so you get a small number of locations, and actors filling in crowd scenes (catch one of the smiling Soska sisters exiting the hotel) compared to some of the larger fare. Their names and other actors are also on display in the end credits in various crew positions showing this was a collaborative effort.
Interesting levity to relieve the tension especially the return of the maid (Andrea Jin) who walks in on a whimpering, naked Peter in a metal cage, and takes no notice of him. She goes out with Mistress Satana onto the balcony for a smoke and they converse about having “Life’s little moments.” The maid is clearly in on this as she thanks Mistress Satana with the phrase “Thank you, mistress.” Toss into this a desk clerk (Ola Dada) who delivers perceived menace with impeccable diction and a smile in the guise of Peter being a “Valued Guest.”
On The Edge (2022) should be seen before the censors get a hold of it. Audiences may not find the sexuality to their liking, yet it will provide a certain awareness of those that do perceive this as healthy. Some hide trauma brought on by attitudes, parents, and persecution. Sex is not the key but the aftermath. Overall, you are in for not a roller coaster ride but a demolition derby. The horror film trope that you must set the world right is in full play here with redemption and acknowledgement.
Review by Terry Sherwood