Reporting from the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival this week!
Like Krisha meets The Invitation, Jagoda Szelc's feature debut Tower. A Bright Day. (punctuation included) exudes a tense strangeness from its very skin. As in both of those films here an estranged family member has been invited back into the fold, at least briefly, for a celebration - Mula (Anna Krotoska) invites her mentally-troubled sister Kaja (Malgorzata Szczerbowska) home to witness her daughter's first Holy Communion.
I left the "her daughter" vague there on purpose - Mula has taken custody of Kaja's daughter and raised her as her own - one of the stipulations of Kaja's visit is she not tell her daughter she's her birth mother. She's just there to bear witness. And that she does - her presence sets the entire small town on edge. The priest overseeing the communion goes wacky, strange men wander through the woods, the animals start howling, the sky itself seems to thrum...
Tower relies heavily on mood via sound-scape - I don't mention Krisha lightly; the films would make for a fine, if emotionally exhausting, double feature - to up its ante; it's a slow-burn, immersing us in the minute-to-minute interplay between these family members and slowly ever so slowly twisting the tension and downright weirdness up a degree at a time. Thankfully it works, and before you know it your feet are burning, and the sky is full of sparkling gas. The last act tosses out more questions than answers but I personally didn't leave the film frustrated - mystified, maybe, but in a good way. And its secrets have stuck, wormed their way inward. I keep wondering.