The John Keeyes film 'The Harrowing' attempts to combine sub-genres like the police thriller, conspiracy horror, Satanic panic and subjective reality drama. Does it work?
Matthew Tompkins ("Sicario') plays a vice-chop enduring a double tragedy. Coming off a violent altercation with child sex traffickers, he also loses a partner in a ritualized murder involving cannibalism. After being officially taken off duty, he finagles an attempt to infiltrate a mental hospital that may contain clues to the incident -- in the process he uncovers a string of patients believing in demonic infestation that were quietly turned loose into society.
Tompkins turns in a decent performance as the troubled cop.
The film also boasts a solid supporting cast that includes the always-welcome Michael Ironside as a crusty police superior (a part he could play in his sleep) and Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy) as a sinister shrink.
The film is competently mounted despite its low-budget feel and is admirably ambitious in trying to embrace fears as diverse as abandonment, institutionalization, green-lighting and possible damnation. But Keeyes draws too much attention to his obvious cinematic influences such as 'Jacob's Ladder', 'Angel Heart' and 'Shock Corridor'' -- weirdly, the film bears a resemblance to the John Cheever short story 'The Swimmer.'
Horror fans craving something with a metaphysical or psychological bent may enjoy this film. But it tends to present older ideas in a fresh way instead of breaking new ground.