I’ll be the first to admit that family events (like holidays) are paired well with several bottles of wine. Possibly something stronger depending on which relatives will be there. People with substance abuse problems and recovering addicts feel this same sentiment exponentially stronger and on a daily basis. In Krisha, Trey Edward Shults offers this sobering view of addiction and the echoing repercussions it has for those closest to us.
In his first feature film Krisha, Shults shatters all conventions in his minimalistic approach to an exhausted story premise. In a story-type that very seldom deviates from a dramatic tone, Shults deliberately disorients us by introducing suspense and horror elements. He mixes a brutal emotional core with a Hitchcockian suspense-thriller as its outer casing, creating something that is as fresh and wonderful as it is affecting and horrific.
While the pre-intoxication scenes has a sinister air around them, making the air heavy with dread, the post-intoxication scenes are those threats fully realized. Travelling down a narrowing, dim hallway with menacing portraits, struggling to keep balance. Peering around the corner to see a warm-hued gathering around a table with what is either your family or hellish demons wearing their skin. The sounds they make are piercing, as if a banshee was trying to talk. These are only a few of the feelings that Shults perfectly captures with his attention to detail and refreshing technical approach. One of the most visually visceral scenes involves the mundane task of preparing a turkey, but under Shults’ guidance, the scene is transformed into a gruesome evisceration that is anything but appetizing.
Krisha remains compelling because it doesn’t take the predictable route of demonizing its many victims. It also doesn’t insult the characters or the audience by offering a quick resolution or magical, instant healing. Anyone who has dealt with addiction knows that everything doesn’t get resolved after one incident. Shults demonstrates his knowledge of this in a way only personal experiences can account for, and understands that winning a war against demons is more than the outcome of one battle.
The relationships, and what we gleam from our limited exposure to the family’s interactions, all feel genuine and natural. This part is essential to make a fairly overproduced premise standout from all the similar type of films. Luckily, Krisha isn’t lacking in unique elements and the casting is just one of many superior choices Shults makes. Shults understand the importance of family in life and in supporting his films, which makes you understand his decision to make over 90% of the cast in his film all of his real family. That adds to the film’s earnestness and authenticity, giving us a feeling of familiarity and comfort in the beginning, only to make us feel the opposite by film’s end. The standout actor in Krisha is undoubtedly Krisha Fairchild. She embodies the many stages of an addict, from the micro-mannerisms to the unabashed shamelessness. The entire film’s success rests on her shoulders, and she delivers in every scene as if having experienced the horrors of addiction firsthand.
Understanding addiction as a third-party makes it a much more trying process than it sounds.Trey Edward Shults crafts a tale of addiction in Krisha, weaving together first person and third person perspective to engulf us into the events, while establishing the addict as both a victim and a culprit. Ingrained in each scene is a great understanding of every side of addiction, making this family affair into an uncomfortably familiar one for anyone who has dealt with either side of addiction.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★ (8/10 stars)