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The Redeeming

Sometimes we all need a little fresh air and space to relax and recharge, and there's an isolated old brick house in Somerset that offers just such peace and quiet for Joyce (Tracey Ann Wood). As The Redeeming begins, she's just returning to the house of an evening as a bad storm rolls in, complete with warnings to stay off the roads and a sudden blackout. No sooner has the building been plunged into darkness than she hears a rattling at the door, followed by a voice pleading to be allowed inside.

The voice belongs to a young man called John (Ryan Wichert), who's wounded and freezing after stumbling around in the storm, and though Joyce is at first thrown into panicky confusion by the stranger's arrival, she grudgingly relents and opens the door. And certainly John doesn't seem to be any physical threat; his right arm is almost useless after a fall that he thinks may have broken his elbow.

Joyce offers first aid, and given the weather and the doubtful roads the two settle in for the night. It's hardly a comfortable situation, however, as Joyce alternates between polite gestures -- offering food and suggesting board games to pass the time, for example -- and flying into rages over John's attempts at conversation. Something is clearly off about his hostess, but John isn't exactly ordinary himself. She calls him a man of mystery, and she's right about that -- many of her questions to him go unanswered, or receive only the vaguest replies.

As the night wears on, tensions in the house inevitably deepen. The two fall into a quietly fascinating game of cat and mouse, though at times it's hard to say which of them is which. Joyce especially reveals far more than she realizes about herself while she tries to draw out her unexpected guest. But it won't be long before something breaks, and when it does there's no telling where the pieces will fall or who will suffer the most.

This is the psychological thriller at its best, the intriguing story and claustrophobic setting pulling the viewer inexorably into the mystery. Wood and Wichert expertly bring to life characters that hide dark and strange secrets -- sometimes even from themselves -- and every line rings true. From a dark and stormy night and a small budget the filmmakers have created a tense drama that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Sometimes peace and quiet can be very difficult to find.

Joyce with poker, not at all happy that she can't be the dog for Monopoly.


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