People have so many ideas of what it must be like to slowly slip into madness. So many theories on grief and mental health. Is it really a slow descent that occurs, as a person flails into the abyss of the insane? Or does a person simply wake up one day, mad as a hatter, thinking it's the world around them that is crazy? Written by Gigi Hozimah and A. J. Marlowe, "He Belongs To Us" takes the stage, showcasing a slow trip into the abyss. It's implied that Remy has always been a loner of sorts, and the catalyst of his mental decline is the death of his mother. A theory that is currently common place when talking about mental breaks. A trigger causes a spiral of events, eventually ending in a climax of some sort... generally a less than favorable one for the person, and those around him. In this film, us viewers get to witness Remy's trip to madness through dreams and hallucinations. We get to see his paranoia grow scene by scene as "He Belongs To Us" visualizes Remy's mental state. And yes reader... it is very eerie and atmospheric at times.
Starting off with Remy's trademarked, faceless man dancing to classical music, and finishing with a dinner party for the insane, it's all about the slow build. The painful atmospheric trip - ending with Remy getting exactly what he needs. His family. His very own support system. One could argue that the ending of the movie is only the beginning. The following scenes to be written within the viewers own mind. Perhaps using the same dreamy blurring of realities. It also made me wonder, was any of that final scene even remotely real? Or was Remy still on his couch. Totally detached from reality - or maybe worse. Maybe at some point he had done the unthinkable, and ended his own life.
You see... that's the interesting thing with this film. Because of it's presentation and direction from Gigi Hozimah, any imagined scenario could be real. Could be the fact hidden within the fiction. It's all up to us, the viewers to decide.
However, one thing is clear. "He Belongs To Us" is a creepy trip that asks the hard questions. Upbringing? That need to be wanted? It's all addressed here. And I'd be lying if I wrote I felt great as I watched. It was a very awkward experience, topped with that feeling of dread many of us know. Awkward in the sense I couldn't always pull it all together, but wanted to keep watching. I also can't dismiss that uneasy feeling I had when the film was finished. Bravo and hurrah to atmosphere.
As an indie production, honestly, "He Belongs To Us" played out much nicer than I had thought it would. Visually, I had witnessed a production that was technically, much grander than many of it's higher budgeted counterparts. Making things more interesting, was the fact that even some of the technical limitations, actually enhanced the uneasy feeling this film produces. Using your limitations to your advantage is truly the sign of a great filmmaker. It works here like a charm.
The three main characters, all did a great job within their respective roles. Maybe a little underacted at times, but nothing that stands out as a bad performance. Even Remy's no faced friend manages to capture some feelings within us viewers, with his gesturing and posturing. Overall, some nice performances, and great work with the "less is more" method, producing some real shock when true emotions are witnessed.
My only real drawback? The length of the movie. It did feel long winded at times. A lot of silent moments that could have been trimmed. Some repetitive scenes? Yes. Yet again, not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but worth mentioning.
At the end of the day, "He Belongs To Us" relies on the uneasy feeling it creates through the use of strange images and sounds. The technique works. Worked for me anyhow. This was an eerie pleasure that left me uneasy, and strange feeling when it was over. A great way to display the possible inner workings of a slip into madness. A solid three stars.