2016. Directed by Trey Shults.
"You are heartbreak incarnate."
Thanksgiving is the setting for a nerve shredding deconstruction of the addiction film. With nods to Repulsion and white knuckled confrontations, Krisha is a harrowing debut by Trey Shults.
After years of drunken excess, Krisha returns to her family during Thanksgiving, claiming that she has finally conquered her demons and is ready to make amends. Upon her arrival, it's clear that the fragile civility of the gathering hangs by a string of reserved hope. The family greets Krisha with warm embraces and smiles, but the undercurrent of danger is ever present. As the night continues, things painfully devolve and sins of the past become specters of the present.
Shot over 9 days, with the majority of the cast being family members, Shults' direction of amateur talent is astounding. Including an actress with Alzheimer's portraying the matriarch, the sense that this is a story about real people cannot be denied. Shults' script was drawn from real life experiences with addict relatives and is so razor sharp with its authenticity that Krisha transforms from melodrama to realistic horror on a dime. Krisha Fairchild delivers a performance that is both believable and frighteningly unhinged. Taking the played out tropes of the addict on the road to recover and brutally effusing them with narcissistic malignancy, Fairchild's turn screams for awards attention without any sense of self propagation. Everything is exposed, but Krisha is the unstable core, tearing apart the house looking for a drink and walking in circles while her family graciously ignores her. This is a performance that is simply unforgettable.
Brian McOmber's score is uncomfortable and stressful, the perfect addition to Krisha's palpable dread. The notes are erratic and in your face, destroying the false calm of the precedings within the household. Drew Daniel's cinematography is dizzying at times and coldly detached at others, always staying with Krisha's perspective, forcing the viewer to climb inside her chainsaw point of view against their will. There are so many explosive scenes between Krisha and the various family members she is trying to make amends with that each could easily serve as a centerpiece. The scene with her estranged son is the highlight, presented in two different versions, the euphoric fairy tale dream and the heartbreaking reality that are cringe worthy and heartbreaking in equal portions.
The best part of Krisha deals with the holiday turkey. What begins as Krisha's olive branch, slowly, irrevocable becomes a metaphor for her rapidly increasing desperation. As the film builds towards it's chalkboard scratching climax, the fate of the turkey becomes a matter of spiritual life or death that is so deviously presented, the magnitude of what you're witnessing is mainlined into the conscious.
Available now for digital rental, Krisha is an excellent debut. It's almost too perfect and hard to believe that this is Shults' first film. Almost. A simple story that gives no quarter, and executes all pretense upon it's apocalyptic conclusion, Krisha is psychological terror of the highest order.