100 Feet is an American Horror film written and directed by Eric Red, debuted in 2008 at the Hamburg Fantasy Filmfest. It aired on the Syfy channel in 2009 and was released to DVD quickly thereafter. This is a film I had absolutely never heard about before I came across it while movie shopping. I was instantly drawn to this film because… well Famke Jassen. That’s it, I feel like I should feel bad about that as I genuinely enjoy the ghost/haunting sub-genre and feel I should look for more in a movie than a single actor that I enjoy. The sad truth is like many others, I don’t.
The film opens with Marnie Watson (Famke Jassen) returning to her home for a year of house arrest to finish out her sentence for killing her husband in self defense. Her late husbands former partner Lou Shanks (Bobby Cannavale) handles her case. Shortly after she moves back in, the ghost of her husband returns and renews her torment. Marnie meets a local boy named Joey (Ed Westwick) the two later become sexually involved. Marnie tries to ride the house of her former husbands ghost, but the harder she tries to escape him, the more his spirit lashes out. While Shanks believes that she’s hiding the true culprit of her husbands murder and he has returned to keep her quite. As the haunting intensifies the three are pulled closer and closer together, resulting in the films climactic conclusion
For me a haunting film needs a number of strong elements for me to able to enjoy it. A strong cast with a very strong lead, good atmosphere and the confining feeling of being trapped. This movie has all of that I’m very glad to say. But it does have issues that make me feel conflicted on where to stand on it.
Famke Jassen does an amazing job, she continues over and over to stand up against her husbands ghost. I really enjoyed this as he was also her abuser, so I see Marnie as an amazingly strong heroine. She has the feeling of someone who’s both fragile and incredibly strong, which is a trait I love in movie starlets. Maybe that’s part of what draws me to horror films, with its abundance of Victim-Heroes. But I still feel as if something is missing, what ever it is I can quite pin it down.
The atmosphere in this is great with its strong feeling of being grounded in reality. It’s this sense of reality that makes the film work. At points the haunting feels secondary at times to the simple drama of life. So when the haunting happens, it stands out and brings a strong feeling of dread with it. The ghost comes off as incredibly vicious even when he does very little. Saddly the climax feels out of place breaking the realism I enjoyed so much.
The film is weak at times, with a notably bad CGI death at the hands of the ghost. It feels terribly out of place within the rest of the film, the effect comes off as cheap and poorly done. There’s a number of ways this could of been better handled. This the point in the film when the tone and pacing start to feel jumbled.
Another gripe I have seemed to fall in the same line with other people and that’s the film doesn’t know distance. Marnie has been often well within the 100 feet she’s allowed. At many points, she’s at most 40ft from the transceiver, but it still goes off. Most annoyingly is the front door for me as shes no where near 100 feet away and the in the basement when shes easily within range.
But my biggest and hardest swallow piece of this film is, why in the world was Shanks be assigned her case? He’s way too personally involved and every time it was brought how Marnies husband was his partner it ruined my submersion. But the on screen chemistry between Cannavale and Jassen was incredibly enjoyable and that softens the blow quite a bit. At times I really enjoyed Cannavales performance more than Jassens, as I feel he’s wrestling with the guilt of never getting involved before, even though he knew of the problem.
So final thoughts? Well, while I do like parts of the films, but the whole comes together as a bit lacking. The ending in particular felt very ramshackle and tossed together. The acting from the main cast, all three of them was very good and I found all the characters to be relate-able to in one way or another. But the films damaged internal logic and inability to calculate distance just left a sour taste. So, what I feel could of been a spectacular story turns into average fair. I’m not sure who I would recommend this film to, I like enough to do so. But I don’t feel it’s strong enough to recommend over other movies in the genre, 5/10.