While the singular good idea at the heart of It Knows — a psychological horror movie by Mississippi-based filmmakers Mark L. Maness and Rob Winfrey — mightn’t be quite enough to sustain it for the length of its 76-minute running time, Arkansas audiences will likely enjoy its relentless pace and the opportunity to see a few faces familiar to the state filmmaking and theater communities on the biggest screen.
Chief among these players is 9-year-old Lauren Lasseigne, who plays Claire, a girl abused and later haunted by her irredeemably evil dad (Dan Michael), who inflicts upon her some truly terrible damage. (As the filmmakers are quick to remind us, this unrated film is unsuitable for most children, though Lasseigne provides young Claire with the sort of steely resolve that can face down monsters.)
Anyway, the film begins cryptically, with a young woman we soon discover is the grown-up Claire (Carmen Patterson) being threatened in the woods. We then flashback to the events of what must have been one of the worst days of her life, when her younger self witnessed a series of atrocities.
Eventually we are led to understand that Claire has, for obscure reasons, left her wholesome-seeming husband, Frank (Warren McCullough), and little children (siblings Corbin and Grace Pitts from Memphis) to camp in the wilderness, where she’s menaced by some supernatural entity. And at crucial moments she’s suddenly cast back into a version of the suburban home where all the bad stuff went down all those years before. There she’s confronted by young Claire, and eventually other figures from her past.
If you’re the sort of moviegoer who likes to puzzle these sorts of things out, it shouldn’t take you long to discover exactly what’s going on, and why Claire can never quite escape the house.
Still, while the film is a little short on intentional humor, it’s not unlikable, and it doesn’t exactly revel in its gore. And it has an elegant little twist (though one that might have worked better as a 30-minute short). While there’s some tonal dissonance between the performances, it could be argued that the final revelation explains a bit of the staginess in some scenes while others are played naturalistically.
And it’s nice to see the consistently excellent Ed Lowry and Lauren McCullough in small parts.
It Knows will screen at 7 p.m. Monday at Little Rock’s Riverdale 10 Theater, 2600 Cantrell Road. Tickets are $11 and can be bought in advance at riverdale10.com.
Young Claire (Lauren Lasseigne) has some difficult information to impart in the independently produced psychological thriller It Knows.