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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 12.82%
Average: 33.33%
Pretty Bad: 7.69%
Total Crap: 10.26%

1 review, 33 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"This Is What Happens When You Overpraise David Lynch"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: When I was young and would injure myself in some way, instead of treating the boo-boo like a national emergency, my mom would routinely outstretch her arms and yell “SAFE!” It’s an interesting approach and one I hope more mothers subscribe to. Tending to your children’s well-being while not imposing on them an unnecessary sense of danger to every little crisis that comes along. I like to believe I turned out OK as a result. Ariel Vromen’s Danika falls somewhere in-between Julianne Moore’s housewife from Safe and Kyra Sedgwick’s overprotective “you're mine, MINE!” mommy of Loverboy. And it plays its theme within the confines of a creepy thriller where mom may know best – only not quite sure of what she knows. Except like every other brain-bending blend of visions and nightmares of late, it betrays its good will by playing a game of deception with the audience that’s well past the stage of “fool me twice.”

Marisa Tomei plays Danika, a mother-of-three married to Craig Bierko. As a child she witnessed her brother get tragically struck down by a car when their mother wasn’t paying attention. Actually it’s more like the kid ran full blast after a ball into a virtual cul-de-sac of flowing traffic, so it’s hard to completely blame the mother who was watering the flowers, but surely it puts an overt motherly instinct not to fall under the same trap. On her way to work she hears of the found body of a missing child and then witnesses a brutal robbery of her bank from her manager’s office. There’s only one problem. There is no robbery and whatever paranoia led her to cowering in fear sends her home permanently.

This seems ideal for Danika who deep down wants nothing more than to watch over her kids 24/7, but what kind of paranoiac is she? Her oldest son (Kyle Gallner) has just met a more mature foreign exchange student. Her daughter (Nicki Prian) is being assigned reading material at school which has her asking “what a cunt is.” And the youngest (Ridge Canipe) likes to sneak out at three-in-the-morning to take a fully-clothed dip in their neighbor’s pool. What’s a mother to do? She doesn’t believe in nannies and the world she lives in is proving to be the primary conspirator to corrupting her babies past a point beyond her control. Visits to a psychiatrist (Regina Hall) to curb her nightmarish visions of isolation - and that beheaded woman she doesn’t remember shopping for - prove to be little help even after they catch up to a present in which Danika may be more prescient than she ever realized.

It’s somewhere just as the second act is winding into the third that you can sense the film retracing the footsteps of its predecessors. Like Danika’s visions, audience members themselves will be ahead of the film (in a good way) trying to piece together the forming puzzle. But as the past-and-future merge quickly into Danika’s present, the film slowly starts reexamining everything that’s come before it and forcing the audience to the point of accepting its intricacies or dismissing it as just another exercise in brain-busting manipulation where themes and consistency lose out to the almighty twists and turns.

Marisa Tomei is quite solid in the lead role as one of the best looking soccer moms on any block. We feel for her insecurities and the fear of not being able to mother a full nest. Vromen shows some real directing flair, substituting growing dread in place of mere shock stingers to punch home Danika’s descent. Joshua Leibner’s script nails as many of the potential warning signs for parents in a world where one mom or one dad couldn’t possibly be asked to shield their child’s eyes from everything, which makes it all the more upsetting that it had to go for the easy genre closer instead of exploring the universal parental mentality that Danika had going for it until the final half-hour. At least my mom had the good sense to teach me the cardinal suburbia rule of looking both ways. Especially if you're ever on Mulholland Drive.

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originally posted: 06/13/06 04:35:13
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/24/10 Judith true to mental illness...reacting to YOUR reality and never knowing the difference. 4 stars
1/03/10 big K I'll never get those 90 minutes back...wait did I really just watch a movie or am I crazy? 1 stars
8/14/09 Johnfernandez The boom mics were there because the editor was gone for the month 3 stars
8/05/09 natalie the boom mics were there to denote her fantasy world. that was her movie. 5 stars
8/03/09 Sarah Liked the movie..kept my not understand the ending. 3 stars
7/13/09 Fuzz Very intense. My take was all hallicunated by a street woman who saw a car crash. 4 stars
7/09/09 Charde Carbonell I actually liked it... didnt know what to expect going into it... def. a confusing ending?? 4 stars
7/01/09 John Acting (4) Story (3) Directing (3) [Editing (0) Sound (0) boom mikes too distracting] 2 stars
6/18/09 Michael Marko I loved the boom mics!! The rest was kinda average.Mediocre story relying on shock. 3 stars
6/17/09 Joe M. What the hell was the mike doing in so many scenes, ruins everything 4 stars
6/15/09 laura alessi I think she was a homeless schizophrenic. none of it took place. 3 stars
6/14/09 Ron W The Micraphone was in so many scenes it should have been the staring role.. 1 stars
6/09/09 wendy williams I wish someone would please explain it to me. 2 stars
6/09/09 jim b boom mikes everywhere! 3 stars
6/08/09 Jessie M Didn't anyone else notice the boom microphone in the shot at the bank scene 2 stars
3/12/08 Caroline Great movie! But I didn't understand it at all. Gosh hate movies that leave you wondering. 4 stars
3/06/08 Bob Samuels good until the last 10 minutes 3 stars
7/22/07 Avid Filmy Guy A wall to wall waste of time. As the movie ended, I knelt to thank all that is holy. 1 stars
5/20/07 Andre Kryzhan 80 minutes of my life wasted. I lost out on good sleep watching this crap!!! 1 stars
2/27/07 Rose Drove me crazy trying to figure it all out. Reality or delusion? 5 stars
2/27/07 Jessica Gonzalez i loved but i still am not totally sure about the ending... what happened? 5 stars
2/01/07 Julie Did she forgive the hubby or kill all her kids in a car crash? It didn't make me care 3 stars
1/04/07 Vanessa Guillen it was such a confusing movie. But that was the best part. but it was an awesome movie. 5 stars
9/17/06 Ariel Satchi I loved this movie, especially the end that turned everything upside down 5 stars
6/18/06 Stephen Rhodes I loved it. 5 stars
6/18/06 Ray Wallace Real or not real? it's your call- an entertaining hour of madness 5 stars
6/17/06 carmine bello a hallucinatory maze - Loved Marissa- she's still a babe- rocking performance 5 stars
6/17/06 joyce iulo top notch thriller - tomei descends into madness 5 stars
6/16/06 liz benard Edge of the seat thriller- good summer mindbender!!! 5 stars
6/14/06 Michael Ross I liked the twist and turns. Its just a good movie! 5 stars
6/14/06 Joseph Barnea just an amazing ride!!! 5 stars
6/13/06 Karen Sauer original, smart, and an edge of your seat thriller 5 stars
6/13/06 MagEK8 This movie will make you re-think everything! 5 stars
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  26-Dec-2006 (R)
  DVD: 26-Dec-2006



Directed by
  Ariel Vromen

Written by
  Joshua Leibner

  Marisa Tomei
  Craig Bierko
  Regina Hall
  Ridge Canipe
  Nicki Prian
  Kyle Gallner

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