From the opening moments, writer/director Anubys Lopez sets an unnerving tone for his Texas-set horror/thriller “Aged,” the tale of a young caregiver who discovers a house of dark and dangerous secrets.
The film begins in a coffee shop where Veronica (Morgan Boss-Maltais) is meeting with potential employer Charles (Dave McClain), a man looking for in-home care for mother Mrs. Bloom (Carla Kidd) who may be suffering from dementia.
Immediately, something seems off kilter. Charles seems too determined to have Veronica take the job. After her initial refusal, he tells her that he will “pay anything” if she would say yes.
A seemingly kind soul that needs a job and money Veronica agrees.
Once at the house for her first day (Veronica is to stay overnight for a short time), everything seems somewhat normal. Mrs. Bloom is stern but kind and the three main characters share dinner together before Charles abruptly leaves much to Veronica’s surprise.
Strange events begin to happen, beginning with Veronica’s conversation with Bloom’s strange gardener Joe (Adonis Ringo). In classic horror movie character style, Joe mysteriously warns her the house is not safe.
What unfolds is a tense and slow-building tapestry of dark visions, strange visitors, and an unshakable aura of dread and danger.
Anubys Lopez does quite well in overcoming the restraints of his film’s low budget. Lopez knows how to create tension and understands the importance of sustaining the atmosphere. Where many modern thrillers (both big and small budgeted) fail to generate and sustain proper tension, Lopez grasps the need to hold on to the mood created for this film and does so with his committed team behind the scenes.
Cinematographer Alex Mirabal uses the remote Texas locations to good effect, crafting some truly unsettling moments by using every inch of the frame and making the house its own character with its dimly lit corners and windows that become almost like cell door bars.
Assisted by creepy sound design and a suspenseful score from Kaizad Patel and Michael Gaffney, Mirabal’s camera assures the film’s tension to be quite palpable.
Morgan Boss-Maltais does well as Veronica, her kind demeanor giving the audience a connection to reality. The actress’s natural work makes the gradual terrors hit more effectively.
Carla Kidd has good instincts as Mrs. Bloom insuring the performance never goes over the top. Kidd crafts the character naturally. The inner madness of Mrs. Bloom is always simmering under the surface, but the actress makes us wait for any revelation by never tipping her hat trough unnecessary mannerisms or overdone facial tics.
In the final act (the moment when ninety-nine percent of modern horror films drop the ball) Lopez keeps hold off the tension as his picture makes its way to the shocking and unexpected reveal. The screenplay has a reason beyond being a standard “creeper.” The endgame of the plot is handled very well and lends the piece gravitas and emotional potency.
With a strong attention to mood, “Aged” is an effective and well-crafted horror/thriller. I look forward to the director’s next film.