Some films, even if they are not the best you’ve seen, are so interesting to watch you wish they lasted twice as long as they do. This is the case with The Ones Below, a new thriller from David Farr starring Clemence Poesy.
Before I finished The Ones Below, it was impossible for me to think of Poesy without associating her with Harry Potter franchise. I know, it’s old and she’s been doing things since then, but somehow I missed the majority of these things. So it came as a greatest surprise when I realised that not only can she act, but she can hold the whole film together for longer than they gave her a chance to. Yes, it is the first time I’m complaining about the film being too short. Deal with it.
The Ones Below is has what I would call, the Alice in Wonderland narrative structure. We enter a room of a story which doesn’t seem strange only to realise that not only is it strange, but extremely creepy and yet tempting us deeper down the rabbit hole. We open more and more doors, some really small, some massive and discover threads and sub-stories we want to leave the main plot for. The Ones Below is a fascinating film.
Since the previous paragraphs just sound abstract, I will now serve you the story itself in the words of the distributor:
Kate (Clémence Poésy) and Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore) live in the upstairs flat of a London house. Thirty-something, successful and affluent, they are expecting their first baby. All appears well on the surface though Kate harbours deep-rooted fears about her fitness to be a mother and her ability to love her child. One day, another couple, Jon (David Morrissey) and Theresa (Laura Birn), move in to the empty apartment below. They are also expecting a baby and, in stark contrast to Kate, Theresa is full of joy at the prospect of imminent motherhood. Pregnancy brings the women together in a blossoming friendship as Kate becomes entranced by Theresa’s unquestioning celebration of her family-to-be. Everything changes one night at a dinner party in Kate and Justin’s flat. Kate begins to sense that all is not as it seems with the couple below. Then a tragic accident throws the couples into a nightmare and a reign of psychological terror begins.
I can easily imagine Guillermo del Toro making this film. It has this sinister atmosphere all the way through and Poesy is excellent in leading us through it. The story itself comes with a few bumps, but overall it is extremely involving and we spend most of the film on the edge of our seats.
But do not assume that The Ones Below is your typical thriller. In structure it once again recalls the likes of Alice in Wonderland or the Orphanage. Comparing it to a horror film might be confusing, but the Ones Below is all about the atmosphere, that’s why I’m giving an example of a fairy-talish one.
Like I said, it had a few bumps. I felt that the ending was a little rushed and maybe it was so desperate to create a twist, when it finally came it felt pushed and almost unnecessary. The horror of the story lied in it not being extreme. Nobody could stop what was happening, because all the way through it just didn’t look so serious.
Aside from that, I loved the Ones Below. Of course, it’s not getting the broad release it deserves, because the mainstream cinemas are afraid to show films which might be slower than Deadpool (shout out for Odeon, who changed the game drastically by showing Disorder on their last Screen Unseen – even though I didn’t like the movie, I loved the step they took). If you can put your prejudices and doubts aside, do see the Ones Below. It’s a small and daunting treat.