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Armistice
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by Jay Seaver

"Even for a simple horror movie, it's kind of thin."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: This movie played the festival under the name "Armistice", but IMDB lists that as an alternate title to "Warhouse". Both are kind of silly titles; the first is blandly generic but still needs to be stretched to refer to this movie; the second is almost absurdly literal. That I can't come up with something better probably indicated that there's just not as much of interest here as one might hope.

It starts with A.J. Budd (Joseph Morgan) of the Royal Marines waking up in an apparently-normal house, presumably finishing up leave and about to report back to active duty. He soon find that it is impossible to leave the house, though, even before some sort of monster attacks him with murderous intent. The next morning, it becomes clear that this is a cycle, and even when he find the journals of Edward Sterling (Matt Ryan), another soldier previously in the same situation, that's not exactly the same as an explanation.

Armistice is a short movie, just long enough to be considered feature-length at seventy-five-ish minutes, but is thin on plot even at that length, with Sterling's nearly-identical story nested within Budd's helping to stretch it even that far. To the credit of director Luke Massey and co-writer Benjamin Read, this doesn't particularly feel like padding or even a shortcut that keeps Budd from learning about his situation on his own; it underscores how the situation is an endless loop and the lack of explanation helps keep it solidly in the realm of horror.

The trouble is, while it's certainly horror with a point - you can't exactly miss that it's as much about the ceaseless, dehumanizing cycle of war as it is Budd's personal torment - it can get rather numbing. That metaphor is worthy, but it's hardly any sort of new revelation, and the movie stops short of doing the thing that could really twist the knife, opting to go a different direction. The filmmakers are thinking along the right lines, but since they never really see the big idea through to the end or go the other direction and make this Budd's own story, it winds up a movie with heavy themes but not a lot of weight.

Everybody still does the best they can with what they have to work with, though, and even though it's a mostly-shot-in-one-house movie, it's fairly well put-together. The little bits of design that make the mundane setting strange and otherworldly do their job very well, and the make-up effects that Gayle Cooper and company come up with, both for monsters and injuries, are top-notch. And while Joseph Morgan may not be given much backstory to work with or much opportunity for dialog, he does good work as Budd; he loses it over the course of the film in impressive fashion. The movie's on his shoulders and he's capable of handling it.

It's not a great movie he's carrying, but it's one that does the main thing it sets out to do. It would be nice if it completely fulfilled the ambition it seems to have, but it's in good shape getting halfway there.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=26148&reviewer=371
originally posted: 02/23/14 15:41:48
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2014 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

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USA
  31-Jan-2014
  DVD: 11-Mar-2014

UK
  N/A

Australia
  31-Jan-2014


Directed by
  Luke Massey

Written by
  Luke Massey

Cast
  Joseph Morgan
  Matt Ryan
  William Troughton



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