As fantastical movie premises go, a dimensional void behind the bathroom tiles in a seedy New York apartment which sucks unattended shower curtains into an unknown limbo ranks fairly high on the bizarro scale.
Director Jaron Henrie-McCrea, who also co-wrote the script with Carys Edwards, makes this the starting point for an exercise in Lovecraftian terror that has an appealing human core in Danni (Danni Smith), a nurse burned out on the dying after a spell in hospice care, who moves into an apartment recently vacated by suicide, and becomes obsessed with the mystery of what exactly is happening to her cheap shower curtains. Tim (Tim Lueke), an eco-activist who is aggressive in pushing an anti-whaling agenda on random passersby but shy in his courtship of Danni, gets involved and has the bright idea of writing a phone number on the next curtain, which leads to the pair being summoned out to the Jersey woods by Willy (Gregory Konow), a disturbed and disturbing lowlife who seems to have an invisible, dangerous friend (‘that’s funny – Frank hates the woods’) but does know where the curtains fetch up. A sinister, cult-like group try to stop the investigation, even resorting to murder, but Tim hatches an especially harebrained scheme to solve the mystery, inspired by soy sauce packets, that leads to a horrific and yet poignant climax.
It is confident in its mix of grit and surrealism, and even builds an entire cosmic vision around shower curtains … with a nice acretion of clues and hints to set things up. The unfamiliar cast are committed and effective, handling the awkward comic stretches as well as the horror turns – this shares with Creep, Cheap Thrills and other recent on-edge genre films the ability to go from humour to horror without compromising either effect. It’s a small-scale film, but fresh and striking – and even stretches to halfway decent monster effects when it turns out that every time a curtain passes through limbo it brings a fanged humunculus back to Jersey. The finale finds the leads acting at cross-purposes, leading to tragedy – with a surprisingly poignant aside about the timid eco-activist Tim’s childish idea of transcendental paradise as contrasted with the monstrous horror movie universe in which this takes place.