Mark Reviews Movies

Desolation (2018)


2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: David Moscow

Cast: Dominik García-Lorido, Brock Kelly, Raymond J. Barry, Ninja N. Devoe

MPAA Rating: Not rated

Running Time: 1:30

Release Date: 1/26/18 (limited)

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Capsule review by Mark Dujsik | January 25, 2018

Desolation gives away its game too soon. In general, this isn't necessarily a problem, as long as a movie offers something more than its central premise. The screenplay by Craig Walendziak and Matthew McCarty, though, is founded on and only follows through with the revelation of its mystery.

The mystery is what is happening in a Los Angeles apartment building, where one woman recently has committed suicide and Katie (Dominik García-Lorido) seems to be heading toward a similar fate. Everyone appears to be against her after she moves to L.A., following a brief but promising tryst with Jay (Brock Kelly), an actor who's staying at the hotel where Katie works while he's shooting a movie.

Shortly after moving in with him, Katie starts seeing the figure of a young girl, wandering around the complex and in Jay's apartment, and receiving strange messages—written on the ceiling and via phone calls. Meanwhile, a razor blade keeps appearing on the bathroom sink, as if taunting her to follow through on a previous suicide attempt.

Director David Moscow provides a decent aura of paranoia through all of this, offering glimpses of Katie being spied upon by way of a series of cameras hidden throughout the building and creating a dreadful atmosphere of low-lighting, long hallways, and an assortment of tense encounters with masked men—as well as normal people whose masks aren't as obvious. The question is whether all of Katie's trauma is internal or is being manipulated by other factors. If it's the latter, what's the reason?

Moscow and the screenwriters indirectly tell us the answer fairly early into the story—whether they intend to or not (It's simple enough that a throwaway conversation and some details in the surveillance footage give us all the information we need). After we figure out what's happening, there isn't much more to keep us involved, except to watch Katie learn what we have gathered. García-Lorido's performance doesn't provide a solid enough reason to be invested in Katie's gradual discovery, and the way Desolation resolves its mystery with a series of standoffs ignores the trickier, more challenging aspects of what's happening with and to Katie.

Copyright © 2018 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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