I’m going to sound like a hipster now, but hear me out. It is my belief that the more obscure and independent a film is these days, the more unique and innovative it can be. This doesn’t always equate to quality, sure, but try and think of a fresh and original film from the last few years that has achieved mainstream success. There are a couple, but they’re rare. Now try and think of a fresh and original film that hasn’t achieved mainstream success, and you’ll have far more choices. It’s obvious why this is – the mainstream masses must be spoon-fed explosions and simplicity, and if a film is even the slightest bit cerebral or different, they won’t touch it.
Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha is a prime example of one of these obscure films that very few people saw – but those who did see it were often blown away by its intelligence and style.
The titular Krisha (played by Krisha Fairchild, director Shults’ aunt) is an ageing addict and troubled individual, estranged from her family after many years of hard living. She tells her relatives that she is now reformed and sober, and that she wants to visit on Thanksgiving Day and cook dinner for the whole extended family as a means of making it up to them. The majority of the film takes place within one house and the narrative is predominantly based around this one big dysfunctional family. We enter the lives of each of Krisha’s kin and learn of their troubles, and bit by bit Krisha’s spirit is broken by just how little this unforgiving family want her around. Before long, the truth about her sobriety comes to light and the family dinner becomes rather…messy.
Krisha is a deep and meaningful piece of work. Based on a short film of the same name, this feature-length Krisha only exists due to Kickstarter. Beating its target and earning $4,260 more than it needed, this is another film that truly shows the power of community support. Kickstarter is becoming an integral part of independent cinema. Shot over 9 days in director Shults’ house, the film is the epitome of independent cinema – and the suburban setting, low budget and family theme brings Ben Wheatley’s debut Down Terrace to mind. We all know how that skyrocketed him to greater things, so could this be a springboard for Trey Edward Shults to jump into Hollywood? It could be indeed – Krisha has been showered with film festival awards, including the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award at 2015’s South by Southwest Film Festival.
There’s more to this film than meets the eye. Not content with just remarkable acting, a stunning script and remarkable direction from writer/director Shults, Krisha’s true power lies in its cinematography. Drew Daniels’ close and tight imagery brings a claustrophobic tension to being stuck in a house with this family – while the choice to shoot the film in multiple aspect ratios (1:85 to 2:35 to 1:33) are stylishly executed and unique, and deftly portray the world – or at least the pressure of family – closing in on our titular hero.
Krisha is a mesmerizingly compelling debut from Shults, who we can expect to see a lot more from in the coming years. His next film, the horror It Comes at Night, has won me over with its poster alone. Creepy, huh? But until then, I recommend you all seek out this little pleasure and enjoy something truly different. Support independent cinema, support doing something different, support originality. Don’t support the same old tripe every day. You deserve more than remakes.
Krisha is an incredible piece of work.
Krisha at CeX
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