Thursday 29 April 2021

Threshold (USA 2020: Dir Powell Robinson, Patrick Robert Young)

Threshold is a part improvised film, shot on two iPhones with a crew of 3 over a twelve day period. No, come back! Threshold is really good; a funny, occasionally unsettling and deeply affecting movie.

Virginia (Madison West) is in trouble. Her history of drug abuse has made her vulnerable, and following a phone call her brother, primary school teacher Leo (Joey Millin), makes the drive across state to her home. Worried that she is using again, Virginia tells her brother that she’s clean, the result of participating in a programme organised by a cult; part of this ritual has involved a strange body transference which has taken place between her and another male cult member. Virginia quit the group but inexplicably she can now feel everything the other member can feel and vice versa. She begs Leo to drive across country to find the guy so she can get her life back.

Leo remains unconvinced but agrees to help Virginia with the proviso that if it’s all hogwash she’ll check herself into rehab. Threshold follows the pair across America, in Leo’s beaten-up car, on a bizarre journey to rescue his sister’s soul.

A few strange scenes aside, Threshold is essentially a 75 minute sibling road trip. West and Millin do a superb job of convincing the audience that they are related, and the movie’s success lies in the re-connection that occurs onscreen between the formerly estranged pair. You really enjoy being in their company, which helps make the weirder bits of the movie seem a lot more plausible; it helps that both are relatively unknown actors. 

The film is not without issues; scenes shot at a layover in an Air BnB with a Ouija board and an unwelcome guest feel intrusive and irrelevant, but that’s largely because we’re having so much fun watching Virginia and Leo riff off each other than anything else feels like interference. And if you don't dig the chemistry between West and Millin there's not much here for you; but I defy you to fall into that category.

Fear not, fright fans, oddness arrives by the end of the movie, and is all the more effective because it’s applied sparingly. Threshold is a winning film that I’ve seen twice now, and could happily sit through twice more. 

Threshold debuts on the Arrow channel from 3 May.

A version of this review was originally published on 

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