What I'm Watching: Pet
Hey there, Triskelions! I got the new year off to a good start, by watching a movie I was really looking forward to; Pet! Or as its unofficially called on all the posters, Pet: A Love Story. I genuinely feel the longer is a better title.
Anyways...anyone who knows me knows I have become a huge fan of Ksenia Solo. So when I saw she was in this, it became an instant must see. Giving her such a dramatic role, where she's one of the big leads, was very appealing to me. I knew if the writing was good, she could act the hell out of this.
Also along for the ride is Dominic Monaghan, whom everyone will either know from Lost or Lord of the Rings. He's also no slouch in the acting area, so I had a strong feeling that this would be an interesting movie.
The trailers set up the story of a man obsessed with a woman, who then proceeds to kidnap her, and we watch as she tries to survive and escape. It's a well-worn movie trope, but the cast really made the trailer sing. I was so on board, even though I've seen the sort of movie shown in the trailers before.
I heard the movie was going to be twisty, so I did my best to avoid any and all talk about the movie. I had a strong suspicion of how it was going to end, and where it would go, but I did my best to not think about it. I didn't want to have everything figured out! Show me a great survival movie, with good acting, and I don't care if I predicted things before even seeing it.
Oh, fellow Triskelions.
I was not disappointed. That trailer? It may well be the most manipulative trailer I've seen since "Red Eye", but in a much better way. Red Eye's trailer was an utter misrepresentation, making it seem like something it was not. But everything the trailer for "Pet" promises does indeed happen, but midway through the movie, a bombshell of a twist drops.
It started with a small revelation that I kinda suspected was coming, but was content for it to also just be some artistic license, as Ksenia's character had started talking to someone who wasn't there. It plays as a survival mechanism, talking things out with 'yourself' via a proxy, but oh, it just kept turning.
And even once the big reveal of THAT finished, it just opened the door on an even deeper reveal that changes everything. It literally flips the standard script for these sorts of movies.
I am struggling to talk about the movie without revealing too much, because it is one of those twists that needs to be seen fresh, and it has instantly become one of my favourite twists of the 21st century. Right up there with the original Saw, as far as twists go. I did not see it coming, and the more it revealed, the more it changed the very nature of the film and the relationship between Seth and Holly, the more I got sucked into the story.
And I was absolutely right about the acting. Dominic's Seth is maybe a bit TOO nebishy at the start of the movie, but at the same time, I know that sort of guy. I *am* that sort of guy, minus the stalking. ...Even if I did hilariously recognise photos he was finding online in Holly's social network profiles from Ksenia's Instagram. Shut up.
As the movie goes on though, Monaghan's characterisation does settle down however, and he feels more like a normal, awkward person, making some terrible, terrible decisions.
As for Ksenia...it's often said, and I've said it a few times myself, a large percentage of acting is in the eyes. Half of acting is reacting. And her eyes I have always known are very expressive, and holy crap does she bring her a-game to this movie. You know exactly the sort of person you're dealing with, and can see her mood and personality shift on a dime as she struggles to manipulate Seth for her own survival. When Holly has cause to look like a wild eyed animal trapped in a cage, Ksenia nails it. This may well be her best role to date, and she steals the movie.
"Pet" is a very basic story, and one that's been told before, but never quite like this, as far as I can remember. It brings a fresh take to this sort of movie, with top notch acting. I was not disappointed.
And as for the ending, like I said, it ended almost exactly as I figured it had to end. But where I envisioned a very straight highway path from Point A to Point B, this film instead took the twisted backroad scenic path, and it elevated a movie I probably would have enjoyed anyways into something special. So while I figured out the ending, I was delighted by the movie getting there in ways I never would have guessed.
I cannot recommend this movie more highly. If this is any sort of signifier as what I can expect from 2017, I am all for it.