The Luring Image

The Luring

By Bobby LePire | June 19, 2024

Upon its initial release, The Luring was met with a lukewarm response, at best, from critics and audiences alike. Part of the reason was a bait-and-switch feeling based on the key art used for its release. The poster featured a blindfolded lady holding a knife, seemingly promising a slasher or home invasion thriller of some kind. Well, that lady in a blindfold never appears in the film, so false expectations are created before the movie even begins. But writer-director Christopher Wells has taken his psychological horror flick to a new distributor and has more approval over the marketing artwork. So, with expectations adjusted and its genre firmly understood, does this work in its own right, or is it dead on arrival, no matter how it’s marketed?

Garrett (Rick Irwin) receives a notification from someone who claims to have known him as a child living in Vermont. The thing is, the man cannot remember his year or so spent there, as a traumatic event occurred during his 10th birthday party, and his mind blocked it all out. Garrett’s therapist (Patricia Hammond) and girlfriend, Claire (Michaela Sprague), urge him to go there, inquire about this mystery person, and unlock whatever it is he’s repressed for so long.

Once in Vermont, Garrett meets the stranger, Jennifer (Molly Fahey). She introduces herself by creeping into the attic of Garrett’s family home and wearing a mask. He is unnerved at first, but Jennifer is alluring and promises both the memories he seeks and more should he do her bidding. Now, tensions between Garrett and Claire rise, as do the number of odd encounters throughout town. Is Jennifer just using Garrett for her amusement, or does she really know what happened at that birthday celebration?

Is Jennifer just using Garrett for her amusement, or does she really know what happened…”

The Luring was shot in slightly over 20 days, and in truth, it shows at times. Specifically, the set-up for the Vermont house and the potential neglect of Garrett’s parents are either rushed through or not explored at all. To be fair, the house is really just a dwelling for the action. But there’s a decent amount of time spent on how and why the parents vacation here without their son. And yeah, that whole neglect thing does not really pay off in any meaningful way. Yes, it could explain specific actions during that fateful birthday, but so could any number of other things. The speedy nature of the production would explain why these subplots/thematic explorations fell by the wayside.

The heart of the film lies in its suspense and mystery. While seasoned viewers may anticipate the big reveal, the movie handles it well, maintaining a sense of intrigue. Garrett’s uneasy interactions with the townspeople, who seem to recognize him, add to the suspense. His attraction to Jennifer, despite Claire’s excellent qualities, is a testament to the director’s ability to keep the audience guessing.

The cast is also quite good. Well, the adults are. Admittedly, most of the child actors are less than convincing, though Henry Gagliardi as a young Garrett is very compelling. Irwin is likable yet off-putting throughout. Sprague is so sweet and sincere that viewers hope she winds up okay. Fahey steals the show as the alluring, violent entity toying with Garrett’s emotional state. Daniel Martin Berkey, as the realtor who may or may not know more than he lets on, dramatically adds to the creepy mood in his scenes.

The Luring is a truly independent film, with all the good and bad that entails. The backstory of the house and the main character’s parents could have been fleshed out a bit more. But the main narrative thrust is compelling, with Garrett’s present-day breakdown intercut with his 10th birthday, enhancing the mystery well. Irwin nails the brooding, unstable nature of the lead, and Fahey is great as the big bad, being terrifying, sexy, and just plain weird with zeal.

The Luring (2019)

Directed and Written: Christopher Wells

Starring: Rick Irwin, Michaela Sprague, Molly Fahey, Daniel Martin Berkey, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

The Luring Image

"…a truly independent film..."

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