Horror flick keeps audience guessing with tricks until the end
This review contains a few spoilers.
The best horror movies are the ones that combine reality and the characters’ worst fears, in my opinion. Instead of putting his characters out in the middle of a dark woods and using cheesy sounds that only escalate until the film’s conclusion, Director Steve Pullen places an awareness of time dimensions. He also implants senses in his audience in that the reality might not be how it is presented to the main characters, Glen Sorenson (Steve Pullen) and his daughter Isabella (Sophia Sorenson).
As I have learned more about film, the more that a director interacts with various functions in the work’s process, the better the movie tends to be. Not only did Steve act as the father, but he is also the director, producer, writer, and editor which enhances the audience’s credibility in the world he is building.
At the beginning of The Ballerina, the scenes start with a series of clicks and the dialogue fading in and out. Eventually there is a crash and the scene silences just before it fades into black. The sound and lack thereof, provided me with a sense of tension and an apprehension of something bad that was about to happen.
A car crash resulted in the fatalities of Isabella’s mom and brothers. Not only that but after that, Steve became an alcoholic and lost his job because all his drinking affected his work ethics. At the same time, he never wanted to become like his own father who died years before. Doe Peterson (Deena Dill), a woman who Steve meets and has a fling with, warns him that you become the parents who you despise.
In the meantime, Isabella has her own struggles, including the trauma from the devastating night. She voices to Doe that she cannot forget how they died and witnessing all their blood. Isabella has a recurring nightmare in which she sees a mutilated girl but whose face she never quite sees. Doe hypnotizes Isabella to rid her of her nightmares and her ghosts but they return so a priest instead performs an exorcism.
But the ghosts appear to be more powerful than the priest and one of them leaves Isabella with a locket. The locket has a photo which turns out to be of her grandparents who have been long dead. In some sense, “The Ballerina” reminds me of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense,” but on the flipside when it comes to Steve and Isabella and their situations and what the truth ends up being.
The greatest redemption of the film is later when Steve encounters his dad who apologizes for neglecting him when he grew up. Steve’s dad also expresses his pride in Steve with how he has stayed present in his kids’ lives, humbling Steve. Eventually, Steve can introduce Isabella to her grandpa.
It is challenging to put into words how intense, suspenseful, and powerful “The Ballerina” is without watching it. You do keep guessing about the time elements, especially when you realize that somehow Steve’s family is still alive and when he tries to go back and make things right, they appear to be ignoring him and at first you don’t understand why. It puts into perspective what homelessness may truly be like, even if you haven’t lived that way. If time is pressed for a movie decision, I recommend giving “The Ballerina” a watch.