Review: Anthony DiBlasi Delivers A Layered Horror Film With EXTREMITY
We all know that horror goes through fads. I’m sure many of us remember the “torture porn” craze of the mid-aughts and the found footage fervor that swept the nation after the success of Paranormal Activity. It’s always been this way; when something is popular, you bite.
Right now, inside of the film genre and outside of it, haunts and immersive experiences have become a new way for the horror fan to transcend the scares and tensions delivered via a film and put themselves in the middle of the action. From homegrown haunts, to more produced and corporate experiences like Knott’s Scary Farm and Universal Horror Nights, all the way to the far end of the spectrum of “extreme,” such as the infamous McKamey Manor.
Well horror veteran Anthony DiBlasi has taken a script from indie horror producer David Bond and teamed up with Dread Central Presents to release Extremity, a movie that allows him to flex his directorial muscles more than any of his prior efforts.
Allison (Dana Christina) has grown up after a horrendous and traumatic past that has plagued her adult years, making it hard to move on and even function in a relationship. Convinced that she will be able to use an extreme haunt as a form of immersion therapy, she applies to be allowed into Perdition, a notoriously severe haunt that pushes attendees to their limits but also face their fears head on. Allison finds herself with one other participant, the somewhat fragile, squeamish Zachary, immediately told to stick her hand in an overly used toilet to find sacks to put over their heads before being thrown in a van and ending up at Perdition, an expansive abandoned complex that the creator, Red Skull, has turned into a mind bending, exhausting trial of terror.
Listen, Extremity will do a lot of things that you see coming. Even the backstory of Allison that is revealed through flashbacks is pieced together pretty easily. Most of the scares and extremism of Perdition itself will ring true of the stories you’ve likely heard from real life counterparts Blackout and The Tension Experience. What makes Extremity work, in fact what makes is stand out in DiBlasi’s filmography and in the genre, is the emotional gravity of the story that Christina is able to bring to the role and just how god damn pretty the whole thing is.
From beginning to end, Extremity is one of the best looking films of the year. The stark winter landscape, the warm distorted reds and electric neon blues of the various rooms, DiBlasi and cinematographer Scott Winig have truly crafted a movie that sets the mood with every frame, allowing you to slip into every scene while subliminally being led exactly where DiBlasi wants you emotionally. The design of the various workers of Perdition are just freaking cool, designed by the late Simon Sayce of Hellraiser fame, and they help create a chaotic and frightening feel to the menagerie of haunters.
While Red Skull and his compatriots are all excellent in their roles, particularly the unhinged Nell played by Ashley Smith and the awkward yet intimidating brute Paul Braaten, but the crux of this film is all on Dana Christina. Boy oh boy, she hits it out of the park. Christina has a complete character arc, believably and viscerally evolving from a nuanced and timid woman in perpetual fear to a powerful and menacing force that is pushed quite literally to the brink of madness.
In Extremity, DiBlasi shows off his chops in a wider range than any of his other films. While he has always had a knack for being a cinematic chameleon, adapting to any genre with ease, DiBlasi transcends the genre here. He is able to deliver in every aspect, from uneasy tension to stomach churning acts of violence, but also tells a sad yet empowering story beneath the bloody surface. Extremity is horrifying in both the ways of the horror genre and also in a heart wrenching, emotionally gut punching fashion.