|Don Koch (CM Punk) used to be somebody. Nohe’s a home owner with a home to rebuild, an ego to go with it and nothing but time before his pregnant wife Liz (Trieste Kelly Dunn) moves in. How hard can it be?|
Written by Travis Stevens, Paul Johnstone and Ben Parker and directed by Stevens this is a blood and ichor soaked delight that makes consistently excellent choices. Starting with it’s leading man no less. Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks is slowly stepping into acting and he’s doing a great job. He and wife AJ Mendez Brooks, both have memorable cameos in the Soska Sisters’ excellent Rabid do over. Here though, it’s just Phil, front and center. Dressed in a manner that’s surely meant to evoke Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness, Don goes about his task with the zeal of the newly reformed. Reformed from what, we find out in short order…
Brooks is amazing. Nervy, snark, focused and genuinely terrified he shows us Don in tiny moments. The combination of comfort and tension he finds in neighbor and pastor Ellie Mueller (A superb Karen Woditsch whose character utterly deserves a spinoff) is contrasted with the genuine joy he finds in talking with his wife. But the joy covers his bad habits, the tension covers his awareness of those habits and as Don is stretched thinner and thinner by the job, we start to find out who he really is. It’s a great central turn and I do hope Brooks sticks with acting. He’s good and getting better all the time. And I’m not just saying that because of the picture below.
|But the two best choices made here are the matter of fact way the supernatural is dealt with and the final scenes. The former cleverly uses your perception and Don’s against us as people appear where they shouldn’t be and an element of doubt creeps into everything. There’s one conversation especially that could be read not as Don talking to someone, but Don yelling at a wall. Stevens lets you decide which works best.|
The final act is the jewel of the movie though and gives the rest of the cast a surprising and very welcome amount to do. That last half hour is a real surprise and one that showcases the female cast brilliantly. Dunn, Woditsch and Sarah Brooks turn in wildly different, all fiercely strong performances as three women with radically different views of Don. All of them are right and as the movie closes you get to see exactly why and, like I say, find yourself wanting that Ellie Mueller fronted spin-off…
Girl on the Third Floor is inventive, innovative, terrifying and funny. It’s available now to stream and it’s an absolute steal. if you like smart, nasty, fun horror, you’ll love this.