‘The Lachrymist’ is a Mind-Bending, One-Take Wonder

By  · Published on March 31st, 2017

Short of the Day

Hang on to your sanity.

Literally, the word “lachrymology” means “the study of crying.” Philosophically, it describes the belief that spiritual advancement is only possible through pain, both of the physical and emotional varieties.

While The Lachrymist from writer-director Matthew Gowan doesn’t confront this philosophy head on, it is certainly an emotional undercurrent of this taut, chilling, deviously confounding tale of psychological terror.

The plot is hauntingly simple: Savitri (Navi Rawat, Numb3rs, The O.C.) checks into a hotel room with her husband Byron (James Harvey Ward, True Blood, Low Winter Sun). At one point, she leaves the room, but when she tries to make her way back to it, somehow she can’t seem to find it. She asks the staff to help her, but they can’t because she’s not a registered guest of the hotel. Furthermore, they claim to have never seen her, and even the physical space around her seems different from what she remembers. This is how The Lachrymist begins. Where it goes you won’t quite believe until you experience it, but suffice it to say, panic, confusion, terror, and sanity are all plumbed in the film’s 24-minute runtime.

For all that’s impressive about The Lachrymist – the performances, the taut, Hitchcockian script – the fact that Gowan and cinematographer Nicholas Gartner managed to pull the entire thing off in just one take is astonishing, and makes for a mesmerizing viewing experience, almost like the wake of Savitri’s ordeal is dragging us along with it.

Is she crazy? Is she the victim of some supernatural snafu? Or possibly even both? Press play and see; Gowan and company only present this mystery, the solution is up to you.

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