‘There are a lot of ways his world can hurt you’
Sun Choke is a 2015 psychological horror film written and directed by Ben Cresciman (Negative Space), It stars Barbara Crampton (You’re Next, Re-Animator, The Lords of Salem), Sarah Hagan (Freaks and Geeks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Sara Malakul Lane, Evan Jones, Joe Nieves and Jim Boeven. The film features a haunting score by musician/producer Boom Bip [aka Bryan Hollon].
Janie (Sarah Hagan) is just trying to get well. As Janie recovers from a recent violent psychotic break, she’s subjected each day to a bizarre holistic health and wellness regime designed, and enforced, by her lifelong nanny and caretaker, Irma (Barbara Crampton).
Janie begins to veer off the road to recovery when she develops an obsession with a young woman, Savannah (Sarah Malakul Lane), with whom Janie feels an inexplicable yet profound connection.
The obsession turns increasingly invasive and wedges all three women into an ever-tightening and terrifying struggle for control. Will Janie pull herself back from the precipice of insanity? Or will she go over head-first, taking everyone down with her?
“All of the impressionistic cinematography and special effects in the world couldn’t save the film if you didn’t care enough about Hagan’s performance. She gives her character a sneaky intelligence that’s not always easy to peg down, and that’s saying a lot for a movie that ultimately tries to explain enough of its own mystery away.” RogerEbert.com
“Eventually, the movie moves in a more overtly violent direction, becoming more of a straight-up horror film—and unconvincingly so. Cresciman tries his hardest to avoid explaining too much: about what’s really wrong with Janie, about her well-to-do upbringing, about why Irma’s so intent on controlling her, or about what Savannah’s life was like before Janie started interfering in it. Sun Choke mainly traffics in archetypes.” A.V. Club
“Cresciman paints his characters with an enlightened, almost cult-like brush that turns robotic appearances into whimsical terror. Careful, but ambitious and provocative. Sun Choke is an experience, not a full story. We connect with Janie only for a brief amount of time, and witness a mere sampling of what Cresciman’s subject is capable of.” We Got This Covered
” …as a calling card and early-career feature, writer-director Ben Cresciman has made a pretty special film. I once heard a quote that directing is largely “managing tone,” and Cresciman excels at that in Sun Choke. It feels accomplished and confident in a way that the work of early independent filmmakers normally does not.” F This Movie!
“Cresciman gives us a handful of brief flashbacks that contain sparks of murder and possible rape – though none of these are fully explained. Are they just dreams that Janie has? Why isn’t she being given proper treatment or simply thrown in a psyche ward? This ambiguity will make Sun Choke divisive for viewers, but for those that dig the vagueness, Sun Choke is a tremendously engaging work.” Bloody Disgusting
” …it’s tactful but disturbing, and gets into the fractured psyche of its leading lady (or ladies). A little too oblique for regular horror, it’s a haunting work – and ought to put long-faced, sad-eyed Sarah Hagan (who had a recurring role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) into contention for further heavyweight roles.” The Kim Newman Web Site
“The plot leans toward conventional horror violence as it progresses, but Cresciman has Hogan and Crampton remain largely affectless, their blank-slate characters doing little to make us respond to the action. In the end, the picture’s unresolved mysteries (its name among them) are likely to elicit more shrugs than anything.” The Hollywood Reporter
“Sun Choke packs more mental imagery, f*cked up ideas, jaw dropping sequences and general sound and fury into its tight 80 minutes than all the Parasnoremal Activities and The Conjuring of an Exorcism of the Witch in Connecticut can muster in endless sequels and retreads.” Movie Pilot
Los Angeles, California