starring Carla Juri, Alec Secareanu, Angeliki Papoulia, Imelda Staunton
written and directed by Romola Garai
by Walter Chaw Romola Garai makes her directorial debut with the gnarly, self-described "feminist" horror film Amulet, which doesn't tread much new ground until, suddenly, it does. It's a lovely debut, smart and fruitfully repugnant--an able showcase for Garai as a filmmaker possessed of a nice sense of pacing and a good, gothic eye for object placement and gore. One scene, taking place in the musty attic of a crumbling old house, made me feel exactly the way I felt the first time I saw Clive Barker's Hellraiser, back when I was a teenager and easier to freak out. Something about unnatural births, and all that, and unexpected apertures opening with unexpected wetness, carried off with this impeccable feeling for archetypally disturbing ideas. Telling more would be telling, but from that point on--about two-thirds of the way in--Amulet not only had my attention, it also had my respect.