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No Flowers in 'The Attic'

19 Jan, 2008 By: Billy Gil

The Attic

Director Mary Lambert knows what she likes and doesn't like in a horror film. Likes: psychologically gray films that deal with perception versus reality. Dislikes: bloody popcorn flicks where girls get dismembered.

“Not all horror movies are interesting to me,” said the veteran filmmaker, whose body of work includes Pet Sematary, Pet Sematary II and Urban Legends: Bloody Mary. “It's not interesting to me to see people being tortured. I'm more interested in a film where there's a myth, where I can find a metaphor for the villain … that opens doors inside of me. I mean, gee, I know I don't want to be tortured.”

Her new film, The Attic, explores the dissonance between the real and the imagined for a sick young woman — and the devastating effect it has on those around her. It streets Jan. 15 (DVD $29.98), from Allumination Filmworks.

The Attic follows Emma (Elisabeth Moss of “The West Wing” and “Invasion”), whose life slowly dissolves when her family moves into a seemingly idyllic yet sinister Victorian house. Emma hears voices and sees a girl who looks just like her in the house's attic. Emma becomes convinced the girl is her twin sister, Beth, who her parents say they never had. Real or imagined, Beth's presence soon becomes dangerous for all.

The Attic is a classic ghost story in the tradition of The Shining and The Changeling,” said Cheryl Freeman, president and CEO of Allumination Filmworks. “The emphasis on psychological suspense has been brilliantly realized by director Mary Lambert.”

Similar to a film such as The Shining, the terror Emma sees can be real or imagined, depending on your point of view. What made it interesting to Lambert is that for most of the film, Emma's reality is what viewers see.

“She's never diagnosed by a medical team in the film, [nor is it said] that she has paranoid schizophrenia or severe bipolar disorder; that's not really what the movie is about,” Lambert said. “Is this a physical thing that can be cured, or are there psychotic forces that are causing her to have a breakdown?”

The cast also features Jason Lewis (“Sex and the City,” Mr. Brooks, “Brothers and Sisters”), John Savage (The Deer Hunter, Do the Right Thing, “Carnivale”), Catherine Mary Stewart (Night of the Comet, Weekend at Bernie's) and Thomas Jay Ryan (Henry Fool, Fay Grim).

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