I actually debated whether or not I wanted to write a review on Stress Position. I worry that this film won’t reach its intended audience. By that I mean, those intrigued by the trailer may be turned off by the topics highlighted in the film, and those who would find it psychologically interesting may dismiss it by the trailer. I think I may be one of those rare people who was excited by the trailer and still interested in the film until the very end.
I don’t want to give much away which makes it a hard review, but here is a tentative synopsis. Set in a surreal atmosphere, two friends have a heated discussion about who would lose their mind first in isolation, the competitive tension between the characters agonizingly apparent. These characters go by their real life names, A. J. and Dave, as if playing fictionalized versions of themselves. Taking the bet seriously, they put $10,000 on the line and hold the experiment in an intriguingly cold environment. The whole film is set in a sterile white room with an ominous silver metal sculpture governing the center of the room. Round one ensues with A.J. as torturer and Dave as torturee. The torture starts out tame enough, with a set rule in place of no severe pain allowed. When Dave acts unphased and even amused by A. J.’s weak torture attempts, A.J. ups the ante to emotionally dangerous levels. Is A.J. just that competitive or is his mean-spirited and power-hungry self being revealed? When the roles are reversed and AJ. is in the hot seat, Dave has his chance at being on the controlling end and is very, very angry.
I think what has me miffed is the road the movie ends up travelling down. We are somehow led into a psychological commentary on control, submissiveness, and latent homosexuality. Didn’t see that last one coming, did you? The trailer is amazing. Please watch it below. The cool, creepy, dubstep soundtrack and futuristic imagery give me goosebumps, but it also primes me to expect I am in for something powerful and boundary pushing. I kept waiting for the moments of the game going too far, and it does to an extent, but not in the way I was hoping it would. I think it is important to mention that all of the ‘torture’ scenes are psychologically challenging instead of graphic, physical torture that we horror fans are usually subjected to. I have no problem with this and I love movies that really challenge my way of thinking, but the trailer should have conveyed as much. I wanted to be shocked, but instead I was left scratching my head a bit. Not that I didn’t like it; it just wasn’t what I expected. Stress Position has an explosive strength of being a truly unique and intellegent film, but it also has a weakness with its slightly misleading nature. With this known, I think the film can find the right viewers and ultimately its enthusiastic fans.
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