Review: THE ACTOR (2014)

The passion for acting is a necessary ingredient to be successful at it, the desire and capability to lose yourself in a character. That being said, there always exits a risk that you could go to far, depending on the situation. The film THE ACTOR, co-written and directed by Aidan Whytock (Black Sails) explores that extreme possibility through the eyes of a desperate actor who approach to land a lead role and unleashes his darkest side.

Simon Warwick is an actor that is fed up with commercials and instructional videos. His wife Emily (Shannyn Fourie) and he are separated due to his lack of success and he shares custody of his 12-year-old daughter Sarah (Heidi Bottcher ), who seems to be the best thing in his life. The only other person he has contact with is his agent Nathan (Greg Parvess). During a bad stint when his daughter asks him why mom says that he isn’t a real actor, a serious audition lands in his lap and he is desperate to get it. Reading the script, he decides to get dark and method in hopes to attain the performance that will win him the role.

This is where things go bad. What he decides to do is go through a ritual to summon a demon, presumably based on a scene in the script. The darkness is never one to suffer fools and Simon’s little exercise has a real effect on him. The once insecure actor begins to grow more confident at first and even adventurous during sexual encounters with his ex. But this new confidence soon turns darker and threatens his everyone in his life, including his cherished daughter.

THE ACTOR is presented through the found footage medium but at its heart, it is a three act play on film, much like non-genre fare like Glenngary Glennross. The story is about a performer so it is appropriate that the film is all about the performances. It is a showcase for Whytock’s talents as a one-man show are the main showcase here and are riveting enough to hold your attention as he is alone in many scenes. When he is joined on-screen, the relationships feel real.

The most satisfying (and heartbreaking) of these relationships is with his daughter Sarah. Theirs is solid, but at times Sarah is distant and confused, due to Emily’s voiced opinions. This is a solid performance by Heidi Bottcher, whose performance as the character of Sarah feels truthful.

Speaking of truthful, Shannyn Fourie is also fantastic as Emily, his ex-wife. Their relationship is twisted and unhealthy. He has no power when he is with her and you quickly get the sense that their entire ongoing sexual relationship is one big power-play on her part. Most of her performance is nuanced and it clearly conveys her attitude toward him and his pursuit of art.

The only other male presence is Greg Parvess as Nathan, his agent. Nathan acts as a gauge to his change and a constant instigator. He wants Simon to succeed, but there is a sense that his reasons are more selfish than anything (that is probably unfair because he is his agent). In any case, he remains likable through the film.

THE ACTOR is an intimate personal horror that works on several levels. It’s a love letter to the ongoing struggle of artists as well as a dark thriller that never gives you an easy answer. Whytock’s performance throughout the film has you wondering if he is possessed or has he just lost his mind. Though the final scene may answer it for some, it is ambiguous enough to come to a different and equally frightening conclusion.

For more info on the film, please visit  Whytewoodcreative.com

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