Attraction can be a funny, strange thing...
...Ask my ex: it was pretty funny how long it took her to realize she’d agreed to a relationship with an early thirty-something jackass who spent more time ranting about supposed plot holes in the TV show Twin Peaks than asking her how she was doing. If you think a small, secluded shack in the rural Greek backwoods inhabited by a woman who’s either the biggest tree-hugging hippie on earth or something far more sinister is also “strange and funny”…boy, have I got an indirect way of transitioning to introducing this movie review.
Entwined (directed and mostly written by Minos Nikolakakis) starts with a simple-yet-morose premise: Panos (Prometheus Aleifer), a doctor coming off of losing a patient to cancer, takes a gig in a small, rural town in Greece and soon finds himself… entwined in some pretty strange happenings. As he’s driving to the town, he very gently hits a woman running through the woods with his car. Undeterred, she quickly shakes it off and continues running into the woods. After settling into his new office—complete with no telephone, electricity, or townsfolk under the age of 80—Panos finds himself drawn to a strange and beautiful song, the music drifting in from an open window. It’s mesmerizing. So mesmerizing, in fact, he tracks it to the source: the small, secluded shack inhabited by the woman he gently ran over. In the middle of the forest. Clearly, this girl knows about the best sound amplification that’s ever existed… or it’s something far more sinister. We come to know her as Danae (Anastasia Rafaella Konidi). She is very happy to see Panos, and they more than hit it off.
This brings me to a crucial topic in any horror movie: who and what is the bad guy/girl/thing? Considering her use of sound to draw Panos to her, and his quick attraction, we arrive at my first real-time “what-the-fuck-is-she” guess as the film progresses:
• “wtf is she” guess: a siren. Y’know, the sound and Panos being, like, really into her after only three minutes.
The film does a very good job of quickly—almost too quickly—building on this initial attraction between our two main characters. Upon realizing Danae has a total scumbag of an alcoholic father, Panos decides he has more of a reason to make a heroic return. During his brief moment with Danae, he notices she has some kind of bizarre skin condition, but never dives in deeper…
• “wtf is she” guess: a werewolf. She lives exclusively in the middle of the woods, “skin condition”; that adds up, right?
Acting on his heroic instinct, Panos does in fact return to Danae to offer some type of help, but instead finds her lost in wood of a…rather different kind, prompting him to intervene. The plot seems to focus in on only the two main characters and not much else, at this point. Danae speaks quite strangely and “old-timey”, and the shack she inhabits is straight from the medieval period…
• “wtf is she” guess: a witch. Middle of the woods, doesn’t disappear at night, not affected by full moon. Gotta be.
There are a few things this film does right, like the direction and camera work. While not necessarily boundary breaking, the cinematography does successfully immerse us in this rural, wooded area, miles away from civilization. We feel like we’re in a fairy tale or medieval setting, and most importantly, like it’s not an easy place to escape. Additionally, the setting this was shot at is beautiful. Even the few scenes taking place in the small “actual” village are stunning. Acting is decent enough to keep the plot moving, albeit at an inconsistent pace, but the biggest credit goes to Anastasia Rafaella Konidi. Her talent for being so hard to read as a character is impressive.
While the story starts interestingly enough, I thought things really started to lose momentum, and turn a bit too much like a fever dream, even before the midway point. The plot stays focused on Panos and Danae, what she “actually” is, and if that’s going to kill one or both of them. She feeds Panos and seems to have him under some type of spell—I was leaning heavily on my witch guess most of the film—and he begins to rapidly age, unable to escape the forest itself, regardless of how aggressive his beard is or whether or not he’s wearing a flannel—both very important aspects on one’s forest-escape-ability wilderness rating. This ends with the true reveal of what Danae “is”…
If this sounds similar to the beautiful, moody, and eerily romantic creature-feature Spring (by the brilliant Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead), you’d be correct in that assertion. However, where Spring balances progression of its story through a methodical, almost meditative approach, Entwined is focused on the one lasting interaction between its two main characters, completely set in and around this shitty shack in rural Greece.
Entwined has one or two tricks up its sleeve, but both raise more questions than they answer. In some cases, this can be a good thing, enabling the viewer to reflect, discuss, and rewatch, attempting to find clarification or missed hidden messages. Though somewhat ambiguous in its end, Entwined doesn’t quite grab ahold of the audience enough to engross them, as beautiful as it is.
Entwined comes to virtual theaters on August 28th and arrives on VOD September 8th from Dark Star Pictures.
By Zach Gorecki