THE AVIARY (2022) Reviews of cult survival thriller – with four clips

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‘Believing is deceiving’
The Aviary is a 2022 American thriller about two women that flee into the New Mexican desert to escape the clutches of an insidious cult.

Co-written and co-directed by Chris Cullari and Jennifer Raite, making their feature film debut.

The movie stars Malin Akerman, Lorenza Izzo, Chris Messina and Sandrine Holt.

Plot synopsis:
Lured in by the promise of “freedom” in the isolated desert campus in New Mexico known as The Aviary, Jillian (Akerman) and Blair (Lorenzo Izzo) join forces to escape in hopes of real freedom. Consumed by fear and paranoia, they can’t shake the feeling that they are being followed by the cult’s leader, Seth (Messina), a man as seductive as he is controlling.


The more distance the pair gains from the cult, the more Seth holds control of their minds. With supplies dwindling and their senses failing, Jillian and Blair are faced with a horrifying question: how do you run from an enemy who lives inside your head?

“The film tosses the audiences around and tries to have you choose either side constantly, and even as a viewer of the film, you forget that a lot of the women’s actions that took place prior to the film’s timeline are not entirely their own. The end gives some satisfying answers, but it will also leave you wondering for long after you finish watching.” Abandoned Pictures 

The Aviary analyzes the ways of cult control, and it’s a fascinating topic, but Raite and Cullari don’t have a feature-length concept to develop here. They have a short film instead, noticeably struggling to dream up conflicts and turns of plot that gets the endeavor to a 90-minute run time […] middling at best.” 5/10

“Not unlike an actual cult, it’s important to know what territory you’re entering before getting into The Aviary since expectations set for an action-oriented adventure won’t align with the movie’s psychologically-grounded approach to illustrating emotional terrorism. For minds open to the latter theme, it’s intriguing to see this story from the practical perspective of victims struggling to overcome their paranoia…” 65/100 Culture Crypt

” …The Aviary is able to hold the viewer’s attention firmly thanks to two compelling characters with complicated pasts and the notion that neither of them are actually safe now. It has a few faults, namely with repetition and a very ambiguous and slightly confusing conclusion, but The Aviary goes to prove that a film with only two main characters walking around a desert can be immensely engaging…” 2.5/4 stars Film Festival Today

The Aviary has a decent amount of applause-worthy elements, but it also needs a rewrite to sharpen some aspects and themes, with less reliance on shock value swerves to offset waning story engagement.” ** Flickering Myth

“Not every idea that is presented fully works, and the ending feels very rushed […] Thankfully the performances are great (albeit a tad uneven) and the mystery behind the cult certainly adds to the intrigue. But outside of Messina’s performance, I’m not sure I’ll remember anything about The Aviary.” JoBlo

“Akerman and Izzo try their damnedest, but even their acting prowess is unable to overcome the shortcomings of a hollow script. The ending presents a dark and melodramatic conclusion for both women, yet emerges feeling inconclusive and half-baked. If one desires an effective cult-based feature, look elsewhere.” 2/5 stars Josh at the Movies

“Cullari and Raite, who co-write and co-direct, don’t have anything especially fresh to say, though. Their writing is fine, never exceptional. Their ideas are solid enough, not innovative by any means. The direction works but never excites. That obviously leads to a palatable if forgettable cinematic experience.” 2.5/5 stars Maddwolf

“Writer/directors Chris Cullari and Jennifer Raite have crafted an uncommonly intelligent thriller with a cast that never puts a foot wrong. They have complex, layered characters and they portray them to a tee. If you have the opportunity to catch The Aviary‘s limited cinema run, I would highly recommend it.” Movie Babble

The Aviary is a competently done film. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but the execution of ideas is done decently enough to keep viewers guessing. With that said, though, there are moments in the performances onscreen that might take the viewer out anyway just due to delivery and levels. Enough research appears to have been done on trauma bonds, cult dynamics, and – surprisingly – hypnosis to give the film a necessary truth to it.” Nightmarish Conjurings

“You can feel the fatigue with Jillian and Blair but more so from a repetitive second act that feels like it circles itself with little forward movement. The final act is modestly satisfying however, and it does leave you thinking. It’s just too bad The Aviary didn’t surround its interesting concepts with more connective substance.” 70% The Silver Screen Analysis

In the US, The Aviary will be released theatrically in select locations and On-Demand (VOD) by Saban Films on April 29, 2022.

Cast and characters:
Malin Akerman … Jillian
Lorenza Izzo … Blair
Chris Messina … Seth
Sandrine Holt … Delilah

Production companies:
Catchlight Studios
Pacesetter Productions
Stagecoach Entertainment
The Forest Road Company


“He’s here” clip:

Things get tense clip:

“What Does Seth Want?” clip:

“Campfire” clip:

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