For decades, Meridith Lane (Amanda Wyss, A Nightmare on Elm Street) has felt trapped in her home. Thriving on memories of youth, she watches the years slip by while caring for her abusive father...until a figure from her past makes a surprising return. In order to live the life she desires, Meridith must confront her father's monstrous cruelty and attempt to escape his tyrannical grip. But the man who controls her every move won't let go without a fight, leading father and daughter into a series of desperate and irreversible acts.
It's interesting to watch a movie try to bust genre conventions. Knowing all of the tropes and familiar plot beats are necessary when formulating a unique and individual storyline. You have to know these conventions because they can often become traps where a seemingly clever and fresh horror film can inadvertently fall into. By avoiding the trap, filmmakers often trigger them. Such is the case of 'The Id.' Directed by Thommy Hutson and starring Amanda Wyss with Patrick Peduto, a decent taught and tense thriller loses momentum when striking similarities to comedies with the same story premise appear.
Meridith Lane (Amanda Wyss) has lived virtually her entire life under the watchful and ever domineering eyes of her Father (Patrick Peduto). As his only caretaker, Meridith must care for Father's every need and want or earn the ire of his gaze. As an invalid, the man uses his disabilities to ensure that Meridith never experiences a loving and fulfilling life of her own. Everything changes when her old High School prom date gives her a call out of the blue. With a renewed heart of passion and a glimmer of a life with love and potential, Meridith explores the idea of an existence without Father. But even in the state he's in, Father's will is strong and won't easily be broken.
I love a good and tense single room potboiler. For me, there's nothing more thrilling than having a few people who obviously hate each other and see how they interact. As civil niceties dissolve the tension mounts you wait for that one little element, that spark that will ignite the explosion between the characters. I love films that do this and do it well. Thommy Hutson's 'The Id' almost pulls it off. It gets so close to balancing the perfect tension rise between Meridith and Father that while you may feel it's a bit akin to 'Carrie' meets 'Throw Momma From the Train,' the film still works. You're waiting for Father to make that final push that sends Meridith over the violent edge - as if that was intention all along. And yet, sadly, the tension begins to fizzle out halfway through the movie.
Where Thommy Hutson's direction and the screenplay by Sean Stewart starts to falter is when Meridith starts to enter her little fantasy real imagining her life without dear old Father and how she would get rid of him. In full honesty, I was expecting something like this to happen in the movie. You don't have a setup like the one you've gone through for the first 40 minutes or so of 'The Id' without expecting that little genre chestnut to appear. It's fine that it's used. It's good that it's used because the audience actually wants to see how she imagines killing her father. It's part of the process of building tension because once she commits to a plan, we know it's not going to go according to plan - thus building more tension. Instead, 'The Id' frequently falls into the trappings of near-constant fantasy/reality confusion to the point that any suspense that was built to the point is almost completely deflated by the time something actually happens. I could forgive this indulgence a time or two, just for the sake that Meridith is altering her plans in her head, but after awhile the trip grows tiresome and feels more self-congratulatory than a genuine effort by the filmmakers to shock the audience.
That said, 'The Id' isn't an unwatchable film by any means. The performances from Amanda Wyss as Meridith and Patrick Peduto as Father are fantastic. Peduto is especially creepy with his low growly voice and sneering "don't piss me off" demeanor. Even when he's confined to a chair he's still a threatening and imposing figure. Wyss's Meridith plays the angle of a tragically abused figure who never gets to leave the house, but dreams of a world outside. I felt for her and her situation, but by the time the film reaches its ambiguous end, I wished Meridith was a stronger character with relatable, tangible wants and needs. For a small budget, limited means horror/thriller 'The Id' is still pretty damn good and a solid showcase for rising talents in director Thommy Hutson and writer Sean Stewart. it may not be a perfect film, but it shows these two have a knack for the horror genre. With a little more refinement these two could be a force to be reckoned with. The idea and premise for 'The Id' is great, but the final outcome just doesn't level up to its lofty goals.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Id' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Panic Ventures and Hutson Ranch. Pressed onto a Region Free BD25 disc, the disc comes housed in a sturdy standard Blu-ray case. The disc loads to trailers for upcoming films before arriving at an animated non-Java main menu that looks like it was made in the good old days of Anchor Bay DVDs. Each menu option is animated to some degree and opens to its own separate page rather than a traditional Blu-ray dropdown option.
The 2.35:1 1080p transfer provided for this disc is one that probably replicates the intended look and feel for the film - but at a cost. Because the film was designed to have the ambiance of a 70s era exploitation flick, some very obvious filtering and downgrading of the image has been undertaken. Fine details are in constant fluctuation and never appear very stable. One moment where a close up of a character reveals some fine facial features and details, another close up will appear washed out or even a bit waxy. It would appear as if some edge enhancement was cooked in as some details offer up some notable shimmer and banding when an object is moving if the camera is panning around a scene. Black levels never really come to life and the image doesn't hold much depth as contrast fluctuates as well. Again, it's difficult to knock the image quality of 'The Id' because a lot of these side effects are intentional, however, there are times where the image can be downright frustrating.
So the sound mix selection for 'The Id' is a bit of an oddity and I'll explain in a moment. This disc comes packed with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and an LPCM 2.0 mix. Normally, when I'm given this option I tend to drift towards the LPCM but in this case, the mix felt a bit off. The LPCM felt flatter and less dynamic. And compared to the Dolby 5.1 mix, a number of sound effects come in opposite channels. For instance, dialogue that is heard on the left side in the 5.1 mix is heard on the right side in the LPCM. This happens throughout and I ended up spending a lot of time watching a scene with the 5.1 turned on and then reversing it so I could listen to the LPCM just to confirm I wasn't going crazy. This isn't to say that the LPCM is bad or anything, it's just a weird effect that I can't really account for. If I had to pick one, I'd go with the Dolby Digital 5.1, it's a bit more balanced and feels like it has a little more substance to it. But the LPCM 2.0 track gets the job done, just a bit differently.
Audio Commentary: Director Thommy Hutson and actress Amanda Wyss provide a solid scene-specific commentary track covering everything from the character development to the film's incredibly tight production schedule. It's a pretty great listen and well worth it.
Needs, Wants, & Desires: (HD 25:25) This is a genuinely decent making of feature with interviews and some behind the scenes bits from the cast and crew. Thankfully informative and doesn't sound like the repetitive EPK material that so frequently gets churned out for bonus content.
Behind the Scenes of 'The Id': (HD 8:55) This is your standard uncut behind the scenes material showing the cast and crew hard at work.
Audition Footage: (HD 8:45) The cast read through the script during the early audition phase. Pretty standard stuff.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes: (HD 6:29) This is a collection of ten sequences that were either cut entirely or trimmed down for time. You're not really getting anything new here, but it's still interesting to see where some changes were made to a couple scenes that made it into the main feature.
Trailer: (HD 1:58)
'The Id' is a solid little independent horror/thriller. It has some big ideas and goals, some great acting and characters, but it doesn't fully deliver the goods. it's still a very watchable film, but some may find its later half a bit undercooked considering the momentum it builds during its opening. Panic Ventures and Hutson Ranch deliver 'The Id' to Blu-ray with a purposely unimpressive video transfer, a solid audio track, and some pretty decent extra features. Fans of more cerebral horror should enjoy what they see overall with this little package. Worth a look.