A Mother should protect her child.
One of the worst things about running a one-man horror site is the amount of idiotic, time-wasting films sent my way. There’s a sense of obligation to some extent, and I sometimes have a hard time saying no. Then, there’s the maybe-I’ll-get-to-this-eventually section in my inbox. Lyle seemed to have potential, and hey, it’s barely an hour-long, so, no harm, no foul. I watched about five minutes of the film before I was silencing my phone and tuning out my normal evening distractions.
Lyle has familiar horror elements, and it’s no coincidence. Basically shot as a post-modern homage to Roman Polanksi’s perfect film, Rosemary’s Baby, Lyle, is a condensed version in many ways. Any horror fan that obsessed over Rosemary and her gathering crowd of conspirators, will instantly see the parallels.
Leah (Gaby Hoffman) and record-producer wife, June (Ingrid Jungermann), snatch up some desirable Brooklyn property and move in with expectations of familial completion. June is working and travelling constantly as she flirts with the Billboard charts and the eventual financial stability of their family. Like many classic horror films, one spouse is left alone with the baby. Lyle (Eleanor Hopkins), the beloved daughter of two women deeply in love, soon finds her way to an early death, sending both parents spiraling into depression, with Leah taking the brunt of the impact. After months of hit or miss therapy, the same-sex couple finds a new pregnancy rekindles the chance to a happy and complete future.
Roman Polanski cemented the overwhelming paranoia versus actual conspiracy angle in his tale of urban Satanism on an opulent level. Director/writer, Stewart Thorndike, excels in presenting the same sense of palpable dread and suspense, leaving the viewer to hedge their horror bets? Is there a concentrated conspiracy involving collective bargaining with Satan, or is this the unfortunate mindset of a frail, expecting woman who refuses treatment for her grief and guilt? You’ll spend 45 minutes weighing the options.
Thorndike helms a heady project and knows how create a familiar, yet dizzying tale of terror with his talented cast and crew. Gaby Hoffman, obviously the central protagonist, claims top acting honors as the disintegrating mother-to-be. Composer Jason Falkner, and sound designer David Forshee, deserve mention along with production designer, Amy Williams. A great horror film has to find a way to present abject horror in the early morning sunlight, a midday lunch, and of course, in the heart-pounding heart real terror. I wish Thorndike would have allocated more time to showcase the depths of Leah’s rapid descent, but I understand his bare bones approach.
This is a free film you can watch at lylemovie.com, and serves to help funding for Thorndike’s next female-led horror film, Putney. His next film is literally about a haunted TED talk! As a big fan of this highly valued series, I can’t wait to see where this goes. At the time of this review, 8.10.14, Putney is 6% funded, so I urge you to drop a few bucks into the film.
It’s rare that I write such a long review for even feature-length films anymore, and that’s always a good sign I’ve enjoyed the film at the center of the review. Fans of cerebral horror and old school approach will undoubtedly enjoy the powerful and devastating, Lyle. Check back in a few days for my interview with director/writer, Stewart Thorndike.
The trailer below is actually the first five minutes of the film, so don’t spoiler yourself, kids.