It seems like there is always talk of a “horror movie revival.” A string of good films will be released and and horror movie fans will rush to tell everyone that their favorite genre is on the rise. With the recent release of Mandy and the impending release of the remake of the Dario Argento classic Suspiria, fans of scary movies may have good reason to talk about another revival. Recently purchased by Screen Media, 2018’s Luz has been receiving plenty of buzz. But is it more A Quiet Place or more Truth or Dare?
Luz is a striking film that will engage the audience from its opening. What immediately becomes apparent is the importance of sound. The opening has little action so every sound – no matter how insignificant they may be – becomes amplified and takes on added meaning. This continues throughout the entire movie with music becoming increasingly important with each scene. When Luz’s (Luana Velis) Catholic school upbringing is discussed, the audience hears a chorus. As the story picks up in intensity, beating drums are added, bringing an extra sense of tension. Even when there is little dialogue, the music is driving the film’s tone.
Director Tilman Singer also uses some subtle and not so subtle camera tricks to draw the audience deeper into the film. Once again, the opening prepares the audience for what they are about to see. The film’s open is a one camera shot that takes in an entire room. There are no cuts and the camera never moves. This is done many times, stretching down long hallways and making bars appear cavernous. The end result is the audience is transfixed on these moments. As the scenes continue, the audience cannot stop their eyes from darting around and examining every aspect of each shot.Less obvious are some of the angles that are used. Many times there is almost a dividing line between characters. This form of visual communication gives added weight to the words of certain characters and even lulls the audience into a false sense of security. The most striking use of this technique is in the second act of the film when there is a literal separation between characters, that turns someone from an active participant to little more than a translator.
Singer also wrote Luz and it is a simple story that is simultaneously multi-layered. Many times when movies do a number of different things, they become convoluted and confusing. Luz starts off with one character talking to another character about the movie’s events, moves into an amazing improv like scene, before ending as an abstract horror movie. This is a film that wears many hats, but it never loses its focus and at the end ties everything together.
In a year filled with unique horror movies, Luz still manages to stand out. Its masterful use of sound and enthralling shots will captivate the audience from the beginning to end. A frightening and oddly touching supernatural love story, the unique vision of Luz will leave audiences spellbound.