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Fantastic Fest Review: Corridor

October 14, 2010

Corridor, directed by Johan Lundborg and Johan Storm (Sweden), is a darkly humorous suspense-thriller, the likes of which would make Hitchcock proud.  Frank (Emil Johnsen), a socially withdrawn medical student, goes about his daily routine with as little contact with people as he can manage - such as declining the invitations made by a classmate to study together and avoiding the other residents in his apartment building.  Frank is reluctantly roped into helping Lotte (Ylva Gallon), his persistently friendly (and moochy) upstairs neighbor with increasing frequency, much to his frustration.  In spite of this, an uneasy friendship forms between the two after Frank notices signs of domestic abuse between Lotte and her boyfriend Micke (Peter Stormare, who is always awesome) and as things progress, they get increasingly more complicated.  Because much of the action takes place out of sight, Frank makes assumptions based on what can be overheard from his downstairs apartment and his conclusions and actions set up a chain of events that topple into calamity.

I was reminded a bit of Rear Window while watching it, though Frank – unlike Jimmy Stewarts’ proactive voyeur – desperately tries to avoid social interaction and involvement with the people living in his building.   The use of sound in the film is hugely important, as Frank’s perception of Lotte’s relationship with Micke is informed almost entirely by what he overhears from his flat.  Loud, enthusiastic sexual encounters between Lotte and Micke force Frank to become an unwilling witness to her personal life – in which he has zero interest.  Even when the noises coming from Lotte’s upstairs apartment become suspiciously menacing and he notices bruises on her body, Frank still endeavors to stay uninvolved.  It is only when he is mistaken to be Lotte’s lover by one of her ex-boyfriends – as well as by Micke – that Frank steps out of his shell and becomes an active participant in her business.  Frank’s remote personality make his eventual friendship and interest in Lotte all the more poignant - though his desire to protect and help her are at odds with his self-preservation instincts and willful isolation from other people.

To give more away at this point would be to diminish the experience of watching Corridor, though I can say that the consequences of the character’s incidental misunderstandings (and one hilarious instance of deliberate misleading) are quite dire.  Suspense and tension are cleverly maintained throughout it’s running time, with great performances showcased within a really engaging story.  As it happens, directors Lundborg and Storm are also responsible for one of my favorite horror shorts featured at Fantastic Fest (the excellent Rosenhill) which makes them a team to watch for – if you get the opportunity to see Corridor, do it.  I insist.

Check back for our interview with Emil Johnsen.


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