British thespian Romola Garai (Atonement) goes behind the camera for an interesting, if ultimately churning horror exercise.
Her debut, Amulet lets the psychological collide with the visceral that can ingratiate through an atypical handling of the genre. Though draped in ancient folklore a distaff expression through equity and retribution is finally pretty jolting has a contemporary feel.
Two timelines are explored in the screenplay (also by Garai) using a lilting point of view by an emotionally scarred former military sentry, Tomaz, played by Alec Secareanu.
Imelda Staunton is a welcome veteran whose Sister Claire provides the impetus for a very crestfallen Tomaz to be a new visitor of an old decrepit domicile.
He’ll begin to strike up a relationship with Carla Juri’s Magda who deals with an aging mother (Anah Ruddin) who resides in the attic. This plotting is peppered with recollections of Tomaz in a wet, lush environment when he spotted one Miriam (Angeliki Papoulia).
Really comprehending what befell Tomaz is withheld until later on as Garai doles out plenty after a major turn which may not seem natural to discerning folks. But, if it’s really minor the last act will be all the more impactful.
The eponymous notion comes from what has been found as Garai’s way with her technicians help to reinforce an unsettling mood from exteriors to a brownish-yellow indoor brushing. The editing isn’t as seamless which makes the running-time less than it would efficiently appear to be.
Yet, if the characters in Amulet aren’t shaded with talismanic properties, Garai’s often fragrant, even florid first foray does let Juri, Secareanu, and even Ruddin have some auspicious sequences. In its use of striking imagery and ideas the tension that builds is arguably more cogent than The Relic. Though it must be said that that film delivers a more coherent, even eerie experience through a stealthy poignancy into humanity.