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Confessional Review

July 2, 2020 | Posted by Joseph Lee
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Confessional Review  

*Lucas Adams as Major
*Paris Berelc as June
*Annalisa Cochrane as Raquel
*Jess Gabor as Carrie
*Brandon Larracuente as Zach
*Vanessa Marano as Noelle
*Marcus Scribner as Garrett
*Jake Short as Sai
*Mia Xitlali as Amelia

Story: After two mysterious deaths at a college on the same night, seven students, somehow connected, receive invitations to a confessional booth hidden on the campus. Their confessions slowly unveil the truth behind, not only the deaths, the booth as well. The dark, twisty, dialogue-driven and emotionally-complex mystery is entirely confined to the video confessional.

Some movies are very cinematic and there are others that are not. That’s not to say being cinematic is essential to being a good film, but if you’re not going to be visually appealing, you have to have substantial content to keep the viewer otherwise engaged. That’s especially true with horror, as leaving things to the viewer’s imagination will fail if you don’t keep them interested in the story. It’s very difficult to do, which is likely why so many horror films ignore suspense. They ignore it to the point that if a movie doesn’t exclusively contain jump scares or gore, modern fans will call it boring.

As such you get a concept like Confessional, which features nothing but talking for a little over eighty minutes. Again, there is nothing wrong with a dialogue-heavy film, but your script had better be engaging and have something to say in order to justify it. In this particular movie, seven college students are gathered to speak their minds in a confessional booth about two deaths that recently happened. As the interviews wear on, there are more secrets and revelations as the person behind the camera seems to be there for revenge.

At first glance, the plot may remind you of Unfriended. A death happens and a group of friends are forced to confess their possible roles in it one by one. Of course that movie ended with a ghost killing them off one by one, and this goes in a different direction. One could argue that it’s just as nonsensical, but that’s up to you to decide. Either way, all seven people are connected in one way or another, and they all have some role, in the lives of the people that were killed.

One thing that’s particularly noteworthy about the movie is the script. It may be the weakest part, because it’s the part that has the most focus. The movie is nothing but dialogue so the dialogue is what the viewer is going to pay attention to. It comes off, at times, as stilted and unnatural, in order to push forward as much exposition as possible. It’s a movie that tells instead of shows, so this comes with the category. However, it makes the end result suffer some. It’s a format that would benefit a stage play more than a film.

The acting is also hit or miss. In some cases, you get a strong performance, such as Jess Gabor as Carrie, or Miz Xitali as Amelia. Both carry their roles well and overcome whatever writing shortcomings there may be. It’s enough to draw the viewer in during the time they are on screen. In other cases, you have actors who go over-the-top, such as the characters of Raquel and Noelle. To go into detail would be to spoil, but Noelle in particular comes off as hammy as the film progresses.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. In spite of its flaws, it does have some nice twists and turns. It turns out that the people who died aren’t as innocent as they appear, and it turns out that the people being interviewed aren’t as awful as you might think. Some of them are very awful, but others are just people, albeit flawed in their own way. The strongest part of the script is probably the characterization. Where the dialogue suffers, the character work manages to flesh out the roles a little bit and give them dimension.

Confessional is very much a mixed bag. It’s a little too cute for its own good at times with the editing, and of course the script and acting have some noticeable flaws. But it still manages to hold one’s interest, which is impressive in its own right given the format it’s presented in. There was a lot of potential here, and while it does manage to sometimes work, it’s mostly a disappointment.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Confessional is a movie that feels every bit like the student film it's presented as. Worse than that, it feels like it's unfinished and would have worked better as a short or a play. The acting is rough in some spots and the script could have used another pass or two, but there were some genuinely interesting twists and turns. It's probably good for one viewing, but ultimately forgettable.

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Confessional, Joseph Lee