The new film from William Bret Bell (The Boy) conjures up spookiness from domestic discord. But, whatever visual panache and adept handling of potential malevolence just doesn’t register in sleek, chilling fashion. Given plenty of garrulous interludes and that late, yet obvious twist.
Friend’s crestfallen, flailing comic-book author had much success on a horror yarn with wife Maggie (Gummer) that has lend too much marital strife. Enough to cause her to end the relationship and have full custody of daughter Jenny (McGraw) with the help of her father, Cox’s Rivers as part of dealing with past indiscretions, before tragedy strikes.
Bell aims to bring a foreboding fell what Jeff experiences while asleep from his creations. Jenny begins to warm up to dolls connected to those characters. A familial schism ensues, not helped by the babysitter, Samantha, a coquettish Madeline Brewer.
The psychological implications from estrangement and coping mechanisms filter into the screenplay from Nick Amadeus and Josh Braun. For the spectral in the form of a dark cloak that can be as disturb ing a it is inviting when it comes relational identification and angst.
The refined quality of the production includes how the ‘encroaching of the supernatural is defined with crimson hues. Even as the all-too familiar genre tropes become evident, a bit of stalking contortionist would appear to be a mime linked to a 70’s horror classic.
Not to fault Friend or McGraw who aren’t fazed by sensitizing their characters to the scenarios at hand Separation ironically appears to be detached from the grave elements at its center. Like a type of accident that sets it all in motion the filmmakers know how to hit the buttons to more risible effect than wisely running with the paranormal purgatory a washed-up writer is in.