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The Independent Critic

Hannah Stanbridge, Patrick O'Brien, Kitty Colquhoun
Grant McPhee
Chris Purnell
85 Mins.

 "To Here Knows When" a Jarring, Mesmerizing Film 
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Don't get me wrong.

I give your film my attention.

Despite the fact that a good number of the films I review here at The Independent Critic are not actually theatrical releases, you can rest assured that even while sitting here in the comfort of my own home I am giving your film my utmost attention.

Oh sure, there are distractions at home. That's inevitable. The simple truth is that there's a huge difference between sitting in a darkened movie theater distracted by only the occasional not so texter or the thundering chomping of popcorn and sitting in one's own home watching a smaller, yet high quality, screen and wrestling with all the distractions that daily life has to offer. If I were an A-list film critic (I'm not), then perhaps I'd have my own screening room or a quiet place to get away to it all.

I don't. I live in the inner-city of Indianapolis where the shots being fired might be in the film and they might be in the neighborhood. While my neighborhood is mostly calm and my 1/2 acre of land affords me a certain amount of isolation, the equally simple truth is that if the film I'm watching sucks then there's a pretty good chance of distractions creeping in despite my best of intentions.

Then, there's those glorious times when a film grabs my attention and demands it so intently that it's as if all the distractions have drifted away and it feels like I find myself lost within a darkened movie theater even while sitting in my home.

I love these moments and I had such a moment while capturing the directorial debut of Grant McPhee, a Hollywood cinematography vet who has worked as a digital imaging tech on such familiar films as Citadel and Cloud Atlas along with a credit on World War Z. As is often the case, McPhee's directorial debut is a low-budget indie shot in just over five days in Edinburgh, Scotland on a modest $6,000 budget utilizing the RED One and 7D cameras. The film recently had its premiere at New York's Bootleg Film Festival and feels ideally suited to the indie/underground and experimental film festival circuit.

The film tells the story of a man who returns home to discover that his wife has taken in a rather mysterious lodger. Sort of a weaving together of ambient horror and a psychedelic, psychological thriller, To Here Knows When is a mesmerizing film from beginning to end even when you consider that it was seen in my case prior to a planned color grade that no doubt made it an even stronger film.

Working from a script by Chris Purnell, McPhee has crafted a thoughtful and compelling film that pulls you in even as you don't quite realize exactly when you're being pulled in. The characters are certainly compelling and the cast, including a terrific Hannah Stanbridge along with the equally good Patrick O'Brien and Kitty Colquhoun, is uniformly strong and never less than convincing. It happens far too often in this kind of film that the performances give away the film's twists and turns, but this terrific ensemble cast does a great job of remaining mysterious while being emotionally resonant.

Not surprisingly, the film's lensing is stellar and far above what one usually experiences in such a low-budget indie. There's a palpable suspense in the film that is likely derived equally from Purnell's excellent script, the ensemble's stand-out performances, and the simple fact that there's a lot of suspense built in when you're working with a low-budget and a limited time frame.

McPhee uses it all wisely.

While To Here Knows When has had its premiere, one can only hope that the film continues to find success on the film fest circuit as this is definitely a film that deserves to find an audience. If you get a chance, you'll definitely want to check it all out.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic