I finally sat down to watch Metamorphosis, which stars our beloved Gil McKinney.
This movie opens with near-silent shots of nature. You hear the world outside and nothing else. This slowly changes when two people steer upriver on a small boat. We are still in a stilted land of no conversation as two people dressed in black come ashore to a cabin in the woods - Hugh, who is played by Gil, and Alyssa, who is played by Natasha Krishnan.
Metamorphosis (2022) is an indie psychological horror. It plays with the concept that we don’t really know if Hugh is experiencing a psychiatric emergency or something else entirely as tension shifts into terror. The setting complements the suspense. Cinematographer Jason Krangel makes even nature seem claustrophobic as these two are pressed in by the river in their ramshackle cabin. Ian Hatton’s musical composition work is fairly restrained and he also worked as the sound designer, making lengthy silences and lack of vocal work integral to the atmosphere of the movie.
Through the first six minutes of this movie especially, the director and writer Alex Smoot plays with the concept of silence to build tension. These two people, husband and wife, do not speak to each other at all. Instead, we are treated to every single sound around them, the zipper on a suitcase and the sounds of an old cabin being opened up again, its wood creaking.
As an audience member, I was hooked and tense, wondering when this silence would break. When it finally does, Hugh and Alyssa are seated far across the table from each other, eating breakfast. He tells her that he still wants to try to save their marriage.
But later we’re treated to a screaming fight that shows how intensely unhappy these two are. For most of the movie, it is just the two of these actors playing off of each other as they both dissolve emotionally: the husband and the wife, the sick and the caretaker, the abuser and the abused. Much of the early scene work feels interior and the conversations that are had, two people just trying to work things out, nearly feel like they could work as a play. This continues to build until you realize there is something more deeply wrong than the conflict their wrecked marriage and emotional issues bring to the table.
I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet, but there are interesting choices made in the script where the characters’ actions are truly unpredictable and both McKinney and Krishnan do a good job of playing that conflict and duality. Stay or go, hurt or protect.
The movie's promotional trailer and teaser description give you a peek into the thriller tone of the story:
Seeking refuge on an island in Upstate New York, a married couple's final attempt to salvage their failing relationship takes a turn for the worse when the husband begins to regress emotionally, mentally, and physically.
For those who appreciate smaller-budget horror like the first Blair Witch movie, give this a try. For a movie made with such a small crew, the filming quality is there. And it's heartening to know that indie films are still out there.
I'd love to hear what you thought of Metamorphosis! Please share your mini-reviews of the movie or Gil's role in the comments below!
Metamorphosis can be found for free on Tubi TV. Released May 9, 2022. Run time: 1 hour 22 minutes.
Screencaps and editing by Nightsky.