By Leah Cifello
Moving to a new city is tough. Leaving behind your friends and family, taking on a new job, a new place to live, a totally new environment. If you are of a more sensitive disposition, the process can leave you feeling isolated, alone, and stuck in a rut. That's how the protagonist of Entrance feels, and that's how we the audience will feel as we experience her unraveling.
Suzy is trying to make it on her own in Los Angeles, certainly not the easiest of cities to become acclimated to. She works as a barista, lives with a roommate, has friends she seems to feel disconnected from, misses her hometown. Her dog seems to be her only real source of comfort. Much of the movie consists of a cinéma vérité-style document of the daily rhythms of her life. While some may find it a chore to sit through, I found it fascinating to see such an intimate depiction of loneliness within a vast city full of people.
The creepiness starts in the most subtle of ways: random guys yelling at Suzy as they drive by, cars appearing to follow her, strange random noises while alone at night. All these little nuances build a deep sense of unease in Suzy, but the final straw is when her beloved dog goes missing. She decides to move back home, but throws one last party with all her friends to mark the occasion. That's when she, and we, realize that Suzy may be done with the city, but the city isn't quite done with Suzy.
Entrance is, at its heart, a study in urban paranoia. When we first set out on our own, the world can seem to be a very frightening, anonymous, merciless place. Benign incidents take on a new, frightening meaning. But what if our paranoia turns out to be justified? What if our worst nightmares really are lurking around the next corner, watching us, waiting for the right time to swallow us whole? This is the field in which Entrance plays and does it so smoothly and quietly that when the really awful stuff starts to happen, we've been lulled into Suzy's routine, and the disruption becomes a great shock to the system. And when that disruption does come, it's worth all the buildup.
Needless to say, very bad things happen at Suzy's going-away party, and the construction of the scenes creates real fear in the viewer. If you've ever been afraid of the sanctuary of your home being violated by someone or something with nefarious intentions, and I think we all have, the climax will chill you deeply. The use of cinematography and sound in these frightening moments is really something to behold; I would describe the style as elegant, minimalist terror. It works. It's a movie that sticks with you for a long time afterward. If you're the instant-gratification sort and can't appreciate a slow burn, you'll likely find little to interest you here, and that's a shame, because Entrance is easily one of the most frightening films I've seen this year. Track it down.