Home invasion as a horror subgenre can feel personally threatening.
Creating a claustrophobic mood and atmosphere, the subgenre’s concept is inherently menacing – to have strangers attack you in your home, in the place you normally feel most safe. Home invasion has been used to great effect in many horror films, such as The Strangers and The Purge. In addition to the creative and psychological potential of home invasion films, it was cheaper to shoot in one’s own house. Pastiche uses home invasion to great effect, combining timely social commentary on online fame and violent media with the creepy atmosphere of a good thriller.
Directed by Shivaan Makker, Pastiche is a short film focuses on Mike Goodwell (Nick DeMatteo), a depressed father who has to protect his family from two psychotic invaders Sydney (Alex Montaldo) and Kelly (Alex Perez). The film clearly displays Mike’s depression, particularly with the lack of appreciation or respect for his work. His depression also makes it challenging for him to be a supportive husband and father. While we do see plenty of character development of the mother and son, I would have preferred to see more of Mike’s interaction with his family as a whole first, to set up the invasion to come. Still, the characters do feel relatable and we worry for them when Sydney and Kelly arrive.
Nick DeMatteo’s performance as Mike Goodwell is great, as you feel his heartbreak and stress over his current living situation, and he delivers the weight of his hopelessness during the torture scenes without needing to use much dialogue. It’s impressive to watch, as he’s able to convey a tremendous emotion while under heavy restraint during the torture scenes. Sydney and Kelly are also highlights of the film, proving to be menacing without coming off as cartoonish. They play off of each other nicely, with Alex Perez being more outwardly aggressive and wild, while Alex Montaldo’s insanity feels intense, like a powder-keg about the burst. While they come off a bit over the top, their performances never veer into caricature. They feel genuinely threatening, and the tension captured by the production only adds to their chilling performances.
The film is disturbing and doesn’t hold back on making the audience uncomfortable. Makker’s influence from A Clockwork Orange feels calculated and earned, reinforcing his ideas regarding technology enhancing disturbing. The film’s cinematography allows the cloistering mood to envelop the Goodwell family during the invaders’ torture sessions. Additionally, the film’s use of color highlights the ugliness of the invasion, without distracting the audience from the actors’ performances. The sound effects, at times, feel too light and not fitting the intensity of the action. Also, there are a few visual effects that are unnecessary, as the performances and cinematography already draw me in. Audiences who can look past a low budget will definitely appreciate the craft on display in the short. As a whole, Pastiche proves that Shivaan Makker is a director to watch.
Pastiche will be playing on September 25th as part of the Chicago Horror Film Festival