It’s disappointing when you are watching a film and you start counting off the horror movie tropes right from the beginning. After the first several minutes of Carles Torrens’s PET (released in the USA in December), I was tempted to give up. I’m glad I didn’t. Despite some logistical clumsiness, PET creates a different and interesting turn on the stalker/stalked profile.
Dominic Monaghan is Seth, a typical awkward loner who works in an animal shelter. He runs into Holly, played by Ksenia Solo, a girl he had a crush on in high school. As per usual horror movie rules, he likes her but she rejects him, so he begins stalking her. He ends up kidnapping her and keeping her in a cage in the shelter basement. Nothing new there.
Fortunately, Jeremy Slater’s script takes a darker turn. Seth has gotten his hands on Holly’s journal and has learned she is a different kind of animal. So begins a psychological twist and pull between the two characters that makes you question who is actually caged. Monaghan and Solo make this film. Monaghan starts out as annoying and progresses to creepy. There are cool shots of Monaghan with lighting that recalls the figure of Anthony Perkins in Psycho. Like Norman Bates, Seth quickly loses control of the situation and Holly. Ksenia Solo is fascinating to watch. Hers is a complex character, and you’re not quite sure how you’re supposed to feel about her.
Cinematographer Timothy Burton creates a dark and gritty look. Most of the film is the two main characters and the cage in an empty basement. This allows the focus to be on the battle between these two personalities. I liked the ending but was confused as to how they got there. However, the strength of PET is in how it takes a predictable story in an unexpected and disturbing direction.