“The Id” (2015): A Tour de Force Performance in a Slow Burn Psychological Horror Film

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As a reviewer, you’re asked to watch a lot of films, emphasis on A LOT.  Most of the time, your attitude is more in the nature of you “get” to watch a lot of films. If you’re reviewing movies and you’re not giddy over the opportunity to experience a multitude of them, you might want to think again about what you’re doing.  Watching the film is the fun part. Writing a review is the hard work part. Seeing your completed review and informing the potential audience is the rewarding part. Another perk as a reviewer is the privilege to see films you wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to view. Of course, you never know what you’re going to get, but sometimes you luck into a true hidden gem. The Id is one such gem.

The story revolves around Meridith Lane, who has spent her whole life living in the same house. In fact, she’s at a point in her life where she rarely leaves the house. In her current situation, she is the caregiver for her wheelchair-bound father and must cook for and bathe him. Tragically, Meridith also suffers significant and continual abuse at the hands and tongue of her father. Through a series of flashbacks, the film reveals that the abuse has been long term and lifelong. Meridith’s father is not a nice man.

As the film depicts in detail after disturbing detail what Meridith goes through, we feel for her. Her father’s constant demands permit Meridith little rest or peace. Along with his demands, dear-old-dad dishes out heaping helpings of verbal abuse which has obviously taken its mental, emotional, and physical toll on her. Even though we feel for Meridith, at the same time, we’re angry with her for putting up with so much abuse for so many years. However, there is a reason why Meridith stays and continues to absorb the abuse, wrong-headed as her logic is.

The Id gives us a double dose of real life horror, the kind that many people must face sometime in their lives. The first of these real life horrors is that of living with an abuser. Over the course of her life, Meridith has been constantly ridiculed and demeaned by her father until at times she has no sense of self-worth at all. Since the abuse has been dosed out over her entire life, Meridith has been given little chance to mature emotionally or mentally and seems to function much of the time on the level of a 14-year-old girl. Indeed, most of her decisions are driven by instinct – as reflected in the film’s title, The Id – rather than by conscious thought, logic, or critical thinking.

The second real life horror is the dilemma we face as our relatives or loved ones decline in health and need some level of care they can’t afford. In Meridith’s case, she takes this burden upon herself. The situation is fraught with conflicting emotions and feelings. For example fear, guilt, resentment, anger, selfishness, and obligation can make it extremely difficult to make a rational and reasoned decision in the best of cases. Regardless of the decision, the person will inevitably feel regret.

Facing the combination of these two real world horrors, Meridith has little or no chance of making a well-reasoned decision and is she functions mainly on instinct. She could make no other decision than to take on the caregiver role. In truth, there was no decision at all. It just was.

As another instinctual trigger enters her world in the form of Ted (Malcolm Matthews), someone she dated in high school, Meridith becomes even more irrational, fantasizing about what their relationship had been and might be. As her decline continues, she becomes more and more isolated. Her only outside contacts have been Tricia (Jamye Grant), the woman who delivers her groceries, and Dana (Karen Leabo), the social worker who stops by to check on her father, but Meridith begins to shut them out as well. In the truest sense of the word, Meridith is trapped by her own history and her responses to her abuse. She seems to move from one inevitable action to the next, constantly reactive, never proactive, exhibiting little control over her own behavior.

First time director Thommy Hutson and writer Sean H. Stewart have put together an incredibly thoughtful and disturbing film in The Id. Every character’s actions make sense within the story as it moves inexorably to its inevitable conclusion. The production design (Janel Petch) and cinematography (Athit Naik) serve to heighten the suffocating atmosphere of the house and Meridith’s mental and emotional state.

Meridith is brilliantly portrayed by Amanda Wyss in a tour de force performance.  Wyss accurately depicts every facet of a woman in a downward spiral including facial expressions, body language, and vocal timbre. You might not recognize her name, but you will definitely recognize her face and her work from a multitude of television shows and movies including a three episode arc as a serial killer on CSI. Genre fans should recognize Wyss as Freddy’s first kill in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Patrick Perduto plays Meridith’s father and is an excellent catalyst in their completely dysfunctional relationship. The dynamic between Wyss and Perduto feeds each of their interactions, making those scenes especially difficult to watch.

The Id is an incredible movie. It fits much more comfortably into the category of a slow burn, character study, rife with psychological horror. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect. However, the good far outweighs the bad, making The Id a movie worth seeking out, even if only for the standout performance of Amanda Wyss. Now it’s time to seek out the three episode arc on CSI where she plays a serial killer. That should be sweet!

The Id: 4/5 Stars

The Id is currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.

 

 

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