MRR Review: "Armistice"

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A Royal Marine awakens to find himself imprisoned and forced to fight to the death against inhuman opponents again and again
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Rating: NR
Length: 81 minutes
Release Date: January 31, 2014
Directed by: Luke Massey
Genre: Horror / Thriller

The movie "Armistice," also known as "Warhouse," is a unique horror film that combines a creative storyline with great acting. A Royal Marine is a prisoner in a supernatural house where he must fight a monster every day to stay alive. Despite its low-budget production, the film manages to entrance viewers into the frightening world of one man's living nightmare. Horror movie fanatics are not to be disappointed with the fresh ideas, terrifying sequences and great performances that "Armistice" has to offer.

When Royal Marine A.J. Budd (Joseph Morgan) wakes up in a strange house from which he is unable to escape, he soon discovers that he is not alone. Ghoulish monsters known as The Fallen attempt to kill him each day, and he must destroy the creatures or be killed himself. Years pass as Budd must face the same monotonous violence every day, but the routine begins to threaten both his sanity and his humanity.

Things take a different turn when Budd discovers a journal hidden in one of the walls. The writings belonged to Lieutenant Edward Sterling (Matt Ryan), a World War I officer who had also been a prisoner of the house and faced the same violent routines as Budd. Sterling writes in a way that speaks to the future prisoner of the house, offering insight, reflection and essential advice. The writings of Sterling help to keep Budd alive, but he begins to wonder what eventually became of the former prisoner. The story follows both individuals as they face evil each day until they are forced to take extreme measures that decide their fate.

"Armistice" is a relatively low-budget horror film, but its emotional performances by notable actors create the perfect atmosphere for a psychological thriller. Joseph Morgan's performance as A.J. Budd is haunting, pulling viewers into the character's psyche while keeping them on the edge of their seats. Throughout the film, Morgan must portray a host of character changes as Budd transforms from a terrified victim to an increasingly troubled killer. Morgan is well-known for his roles in TV series such as "The Originals," "The Vampire Diaries" and "Ben Hur." He also lends his talents in notable films such as "Immortals" and "Alexander."

Matt Ryan is spot-on with his performance as Edward Sterling, combining raw emotion with a constant air of mystery. The acting talents of Matt Ryan can also be seen in TV series such as "Criminal Minds," "Collision" and "The Tudors." Edward Sterling is one of Ryan's first major roles in a feature film, and his successful rendition of the character promises a bright future.

William Troughton terrifies audiences with his performance as The Fallen. The makeup and costume of the creature he plays are somewhat low-quality due to the limited budget of the film, but the enticing story and chilling performance from Troughton himself more than make up for this minor shortcoming.

One of the best things about "Armistice" is its unique storyline. The film strays far from worn-out clichés in order to create something truly original, arguably accomplishing what "Saw" did in years past. "Armistice" delves to the roots of classic horror films, forgoing exotic sets, complex costumes and overblown CG effects. Its limited budget forced the production team to focus on cinematography, acting and a well-paced plot, which they accomplished surprisingly well.

Topping off the film is a fitting musical score by Jonathon Fletcher, which features eerie sounds and haunting echoes. The score does not overpower the scenes but blends seamlessly into the background to create a chilling atmosphere.

The major theme in "Armistice" is the danger of isolation and repetition. As time stretches on, the continued isolation gnaws at the victims of the house, propelling the storyline into a darkness that seems inescapable. According to director Luke Massey, some of the films that shared this theme and inspired this film include "Groundhog Day," "Castaway" and "Gladiator." According to the film, Budd was trapped in the house for four years, meaning that he was forced to kill the monster more than 1,400 times. This never-ending cycle of violence creates the perfect premise for building a disturbing psychological thriller. That is exactly what Massey did, and true horror fans are sure to agree that he carried it out extremely well.

Although not every viewer is able to appreciate the subtle brilliance and beautiful cinematography of this film, horror movie buffs are sure to enjoy every heart-pounding moment of "Armistice." Featuring an original plot, high-quality acting and a beautiful musical score, this film draws viewers into the film in a rare way. "Armistice" is highly recommended to anyone who loves a good psychological thriller.

Rating: 3 out of 5