CM Punk is on the precipice of leaving the wrestling ring and embarking on a career in horror movies, including the much-talked about remake of Cronenberg’s Rabid by the Soska Sisters.
First up though is Girl On The Third Floor, which sees Punk as a married man about to embark on a home D.I.Y. project of an old Victorian house in time for his pregnant wife to move in, but not all is as it seems within the house, including its token living component. Surprisingly, Punk was incredibly convincing in the lead role (Don Koch) who appears to be the dedicated, hard-working husband but slowly reveals that he is a guy used to getting his way in business and the bedroom, and is easily led astray by his many vices.
Punk is used to putting his body through the extreme measures in both his martial arts and wrestling years, and at times his facial expressions channel those of Bruce Campbell’s Ash as he is pitted against otherworldly sights.
When Don meets the mysterious neighbour Sarah, he succumbs to temptation, and ends up with more than he bargained for when he treats her as a one night stand. Just like his renovations, Don soon finds the walls tumbling around him and his life falling apart, revealing some disturbing sights, hidden within the house.
Director Travis Stevens weaves a world that oozes slime, puss, and blood that seeps into the crevices and delicately shifts between mystical suspense and body horror that ticks along at a decent pace. The shifts in tone and narrative position are equally strong, as the audience continuously shifts their perception of the characters, none-more-so than Don’s wife Liz, who comes across as a little vapid and overbearing until she is given her moment to shine and present a more rounded, complex character facing a tough dilemma that thrusts her front and centre and taking charge of the situation.
Stevens serves up a promising debut feature that questions our discernment of the characters at play, and challenges our preconceived ideas by lifting the lid on what we wish to remain buried. In doing so, he exposes our inner thoughts and desires and rips them apart so that there is nowhere to hide. Can we face those demons and is there strength in us to change our ways or be forever damned?
- Saul Muerte