Jonathan is trapped and afraid. Unable to leave the house since his wife died, he can't function outside the safety of his own four walls - and then those walls start closing in. Unable to tell reality from delusion and under assault from ghosts of the past, his dread and self-loathing escalate, giving birth to an onslaught of twisted, waking nightmares. Are these murderous visions all in his mind… or is he the victim of a very real and almost unspeakable evil? Time - and a brutal, bloody body count - will tell.
‘Count the Miles’, a song written and performed by Graci Carli, opens and closes this film in a breezy, slightly fey manner. By the time the same song is used on the closing credits, it has assumed a certain poignancy due to the harrowing events that have happened in between.
We first see Jonathan MacKinlay (Michael Jefferson) as he regains consciousness following a car crash, his bloodied, dead-eyed wife next to him. The accident, and especially his sense of guilt, have tormented him to the point of agoraphobia: most of the story takes place in his house, which has become his prison. Two people - his friend Taylor (Andrew Ruth) and would-be photographer Bree (Emma Dubery) - occasionally enter into his life.
I don’t suffer with agoraphobia, but this seems a pretty convincing depiction of the gruelling, relentless effects of the disease, and Jefferson plays this brilliantly: the frustration, the boredom, the paranoia are acutely portrayed. And yet ‘other things’ happen too. He sees the barest glimpses of other people, his dead wife amongst them. In the spirit of ‘hauntings’ films, the blur between what is real and what is not gets increasingly frayed – and yet Jefferson’s perceived instability is refreshingly presented. Even at the film’s close, we don’t truly know how far his delusions have spread. The finale would suggest that his ‘illness’, or the power the manifestations have acquired, may be passed from person to person.
Rory Douglas Abel, who wrote, co-produced and directed this, has created an interesting and enjoyable, intimate story which provides a number of possibilities: MacKinlay’s guilt may have unleashed a powerful and deadly force, his home might already have been infested with some deathly latent power triggered by his sensitivity, or perhaps MacKinlay has been turned into a delusional killer by his car accident. Whilst answers don’t come freely, it is a premise that stays long after ‘Count the Miles’ brings the curtain down.