Rating:

If “Twilight Zone” Were a Love Story

Main Cast: Maine Anders and Rosebud

Director: Abe Goldfarb

Horror at Gallery Kay posterSo. That was a tough watch. And not because it’s a 79 minute black and white film with only two locations and four actors; those things actually worked in its favor for me. But when a movie can be this simple, this low-key, and still pack this kind of friggin’ emotional punch … damn.

I was intrigued by the official synopsis, “An estranged couple’s therapy appointment reveals the existence of a hidden world” because hidden worlds are VERY interesting to me. What I didn’t expect was just how much more there was buried underneath that very simple tagline.

The Horror at Gallery Kay (written by Mac Rogers and directed by Abe Goldfarb) is the story of Petra (Maine Anders) and Olive (Rosebud), two women seeing a relationship counselor at Olive’s request. Petra wants to break up, Olive wants nothing to do with it and convinces Petra to give them one session with a counselor–Bozill (Brian Silliman), a friend of Petra’s–before she makes her final decision.

The session starts off tense with Olive clearly just wanting to be heard, and Petra clearly just wanting to be gone, and Bozill trying to be professional despite some drama going on with his husband over the phone.

Olive is so very much in love with Petra. Petra felt something at one time for Olive, but those feelings are very obviously not enough to keep her in the relationship.

Given the title and the first half of this movie, I was confused, because it doesn’t appear, at first, as if we’re going to be leaving Bozill’s office any time soon, but Petra keeps mentioning how Olive has been “different” ever since she visited a private art showing at the Gallery Kay. Olive insists she had an epiphany, but Bozill just never seems to get to Olive’s turn to talk, and he keeps shutting her down to let Petra finish what she was saying.

Then Petra tells a very strange story about one day on the subway when the driver opened a door she had never noticed before and let off two passengers onto a platform that extended into darkness.

Okay, I thought, now we’re getting somewhere. And I LOVE single location movies with just two or three characters and the whole thing is about dialogue and performance and how the actors sell the scene to me. Believe me, Maine Anders and Rosebud were selling the crap out of it.

Until Bozill’s phone rings and it’s his husband’s mother screaming that she’s being held at the Gallery Kay.

And as much as I wish I could tell you more about what happens once they all get there, I can’t. Because anything else I could say would only diminish how powerful the scene really is, or worse, spoil it. Which I won’t do.

It’s one thing to know what happens in a story, but when it’s done this well, with this much heart and soul, seeing it is something else altogether.

No, you know what? The second half of this movie isn’t one of those things you watch. You experience this movie. I admit I spent a good deal of the first half of The Horror at Gallery Kay playing with the guitar coaster on my desk, fidgeting with it, spinning it, rolling it back and forth, while I watched the movie. But once they got to the gallery and Olive came to the fore and started speaking … man, I was riveted to the screen, leaning forward in my chair, hanging on Rosebud’s performance.

But not to be outdone, Maine Anders gave just as good in return, the two becoming their characters in a way I’ve seldom witnessed. And, good God, what incredible performances, elevated by the excellent writing and direction. But even perfect writing is going to sound lackluster if the performance isn’t there. In this case, it’s totally there. And it’s totally heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, this movie isn’t yet available in wide release. It’s currently being shown “on the festival circuit” according to the production website, but I urge everyone to get to the Third Lows Productions website and bookmark that shit. And the first time you see it’s for sale, get this movie on DVD. Hell, on the strength of this one, I’m up for ANYTHING Rogers and Goldfarb do from here on out. And if Anders and Rosebud are in it, I’ll just consider that a bonus.

Excellent movie with an incredibly powerful emotional core. Heartbreaking.

C. Dennis Moore is the author of over 60 published short stories and novellas in the speculative fiction genre. Most recent appearances were in the Dark Highlands 2, What Fears Become, Dead Bait 3 and Dark Highways anthologies. His novels are Revelations, and the Angel Hill stories, The Man in the Window, The Third Floor, The Ghosts of Mertland and The Flip. He is writing another Angel Hill novel called Return to Angel Hill with co-author David Bain.