Lionsgate // 2011 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // March 28th, 2012
The Only Way Out Comes From Within.
Chances are that, were I to tell you Enter Nowhere is a cabin-in-the-woods movie, you'd expect something along the lines of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. Although you'd normally be right to make that assumption, director Jack Heller's film is in truth something quite different.
Three apparent strangers find themselves stranded at a remote cabin, deep in the woods, with little recollection of how they got there. With no form of communication to the outside world, they attempt to hike their way back to civilization, but no matter which direction they take, they always arrive back at the very same cabin. As the trio becomes better acquainted, they learn of a possible connection they all share, which may be the only clue to their escape.
Writers Shawn Christensen and Jason Dolan have crafted a story that suggests the influence of TV series Lost and The Twilight Zone, but isn't overly indebted to either. Following a fast-paced opening, which briefly hints at an unfolding horror movie, Enter Nowhere slowly begins to reveal itself to be a character-focused mystery. It is this very same focus on characters that keeps the viewer invested in the story, and lessens the feeling of disappointment when the story reaches a somewhat lukewarm conclusion. It's not so much that the big reveal is lacking -- it's certainly novel -- but in execution it fails to really capitalize on all the well-worked buildup. Perhaps it's due to how well the opening hour of the movie works, as it takes a number of interesting (not to mention unexpected) turns, but once the reasons for the three strangers being at the cabin has been explained, the final act -- which focuses on their attempts to escape -- becomes too predictable as the movie quickly runs out of ideas and steam.
One gets the feeling that Enter Nowhere might have worked better with a shorter running time, maybe as a TV episode. Director Jack Heller manages to ensure the viewer isn't too clued up to work out all the twists before they happen, and keeps the film ticking along nicely. There are clues given, and one reference gets dropped which, in hindsight, is a pretty big clue. It's only when the film becomes a more straightforward race-against-time thriller that it begins to lose its identity and becomes less interesting.
The cast is surprisingly good, with an especially strong performance from Katherine Waterson. It is the strength of these performances that sells some of the more farfetched aspects of the story, ensuring the viewer sticks with the film till the end.
Tech specs are solid, with a sharp standard definition 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer delivering a detailed picture and suitably muted colors. The Dolby 5.1 audio also impresses, featuring clear dialogue with an ominous score that helps set the tone. Special features are limited to a 14-minute making-of featurette and trailer gallery.
Though much of my review has focused on how Enter Nowhere falters during the final act, that doesn't mean the film is not worth your time. On the contrary: many big-budget thrillers would do well do show a little of the imagination seen here.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R