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Film Review: “The Luring” Successfully Entices with a Gripping, Mysterious Plot and Tense Psychological Horror Elements

Written by: Matt Patti | June 15th, 2020

Film poster: “The Luring”

The Luring (Christopher Wells, 2019) 3 out of 4 stars.

Writer/director Christopher Wells premiered his horror thriller The Luring at Kansas City’s Panic Fest in early 2019 to much acclaim. Now, it is coming to digital and DVD more than a year later. It is reminiscent of a few classic horror films but also adds its own original flair and even includes some heavy drama elements, specifically when it comes to the main romantic relationship in the film. It is this mix that keeps the film interesting throughout, even at times when there is little taking place in terms of actual horror.

The film follows Garrett (Rick Irwin), a troubled man, seemingly in his mid-20s, with a mysterious past that includes a disturbing event from his childhood that he cannot remember. During Garrett’s 10th birthday, he and his family went to a vacation home in Vermont to celebrate. While there, the aforementioned traumatic occurrence took place. In hopes of recovering this lost memory, Garrett and his girlfriend Claire (Michaela Sprague) decide to take a vacation up to Vermont and stay in that exact same vacation home. While there, strange events begin to occur, and demons of Garrett’s past begin to surface. He slowly, but surely, begins to remember what took place, but as his mental state deteriorates, he soon realizes these memories are better forgotten.  

The Luring’s premise helps to intrigue the audience off the bat, leaving us constantly guessing what exactly happened that Garrett cannot remember. However, the supplemental elements of the film often take center stage and help keep the movie afloat when it’s not focusing on Garrett’s lost memory. The prime example is Garrett and Claire’s relationship, which is a compelling plot point throughout the film. This relationship isn’t like a typical horror-film relationship where both partners are equally frightened and work together to help each other, nor is it overly toxic from the start. Garrett and Claire’s relationship is very complicated, with Claire being much more invested in the relationship and Garrett unsure of what he wants. Claire also seems overly concerned about what’s happening around them, whereas Garrett seems indifferent and lost, at times. Seeing Claire’s overly caring and joyful demeanor clash with Garrett’s indifferent, irritable, and often ungrateful personality is sad and heartbreaking, especially with all the other events going on. Garrett and Claire are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, personality-wise, and Irwin and Sprague’s respective performances are great at capturing both extremes. The two play off each other well and create a believable, troubled relationship that is unfortunately like many real-world relationships.

Rick Irwin in THE LURING ©Summer Hill Films

Garrett and Claire’s relationship dominates the first act and much of the second act, with most of the horror elements placed in the third act, yet throughout the whole film there’s an underlying uncomfortable feeling of dread around the disturbing mystery of Garrett’s childhood. Flashbacks of Garrett’s childhood are spread throughout and give the viewer one small puzzle piece at a time, but when put together in the third act reveal a shocking and uncanny discovery. The performances from the child actors in these flashbacks are surprisingly impressive, especially Henry Gagliardi as young Garrett, although he doesn’t get much screen time. The third act reveal is stunning and quite dark, even for me as a seasoned horror fan, for which I give this film many points.

Unfortunately, some may dislike the way that this film borrows from other horror films. For example, a red balloon is a common visual seen in many different scenes throughout the film, which can obviously be traced to the It films (based on Stephen King’s popular novel). I do wonder why the filmmakers couldn’t use a different item in place of a red balloon, or at least change the balloon’s color. I’d even debate that they might have done it for publicity reasons, given how immensely popular the It films are, to capture people’s attention. Whatever the reason, it was a bit unnecessary, but it’s not a huge issue. Garrett’s descent into madness is very reminiscent of Jack Torrance’s in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Garrett even reflecting similar mannerisms at times. However, I personally like Garrett’s gradual decline from a boyfriend who is caring but aloof, to aggravated and critical, to angry and frightening more than Jack Torrance’s similar decline. One of my few issues with The Shining is that Jack starts the film already a cold, easily angered, bad husband, so it’s not so shocking when we see more of the same throughout the film. Garrett has a much more drastic change over the run time of The Luring.

Rick Irwin and Michaela Sprague in THE LURING ©Summer Hill Films

Overall, The Luring is a tense horror thriller with a great central mystery. It borders on being a drama at some moments, and at others offers some truly chilling horror elements. It may borrow some key elements from bigger horror films, but it has enough fresh material to balance itself out. Garrett and Claire provide an engaging duo as the two main characters, and Garrett’s mystery turns out to be more horrific than many people will imagine. In the end, The Luring should lure in generic moviegoers and horror fans, alike, with its riveting plot elements.

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Matt Patti is a Stevenson University alumnus who graduated with a degree in Film & Moving Image, with a concentration in producing and writing and a minor in communication. He has enjoyed voicing his opinions on films since a very young age. Matt has recently moved to the Baltimore area and currently works full-time as a Video Production Assistant. He also enjoys creating short films with Baltimore-area friends to enter into contests as well as purely for the love of the craft.

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4 thoughts on “Film Review: “The Luring” Successfully Entices with a Gripping, Mysterious Plot and Tense Psychological Horror Elements

  1. I saw the film a few days ago and just watched it again with some friends because we wanted to talk about it. We loved the story and the suspense. We also liked that none of us knew how it would end. And having Jennifer act the way she did in comparison to Claire was a really cool contrast. because it says a lot about who Garrett is and his desires. This film seems to deal with manipulation, what people want and how they act to get it. They all seem to be playing games.

    I have to disagree with the red balloon being borrowed from the movie It. In The Luring the balloon has its own backstory with the kid Tom along with the Truck so I see no correlation. If it was a clown with a red balloon then maybe but the backstory makes The Luring’s balloon all on its own. I really liked this film. It was extremely disturbing at times but that’s what I was hoping for. I was impressed with the how Christopher told a story since it’s not linear and made me think. I really liked how he had subtle sounds and light changes as well, showed he has a visual style which was refreshing. It was more than I expected.

    1. Donna, I agree – the film has great tension and the mysterious story plays out well. And while I agree with you that the red balloon has its own backstory in this film, as an avid horror fan my mind just went right to IT any time I saw it, as I’m sure many other horror fans’ minds would. I just wish they made it a different color – any other color but red.

  2. I loved this film, thought it took risks not to many films of this genre take. I thought the story was super creative and original, was not expecting it to unfold like the way it did. It’s the kind of film you can watch a few times and see some tiny bit of info that supports a theory which I think is really different because it kept me interested. I think the characters were very well developed unlike most horror films and I just had fun watching. Very well made.

  3. I appreciate these reviews. Even though I was part of the cast, and thereby a bit biased (some might say), I was engaged to the storyline from the beginning of production. I also loved the manipulation factors in the teleplay.

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