Let’s face it, horror movies that pertain to be based on real life events are a little crass, but they don’t go over the line by not using the actual names of those involved as they’re more inspired by the event than actually based on it. Wolves at the Door is also “based on” a true event but what the film does that so crass and repugnant is it uses the "based on real events" card as some sort of shock value right at the end of the film where its revealed its not based on, but an actual retelling of a true story. What appears to be a film that’s only simply based on the Charles Manson murders is actually retelling the Manson family murders of actress Sharon Tate.
I have no problem with retelling those events in a form of media, but the filmmakers went about retelling the murder without an ounce of empathy and selling it as standard home invasion thriller, when it was a retelling of the murder of Sharon Tate. It’s the way it was done as shock value, pull the rug out from under you kinda way, that’s really quite devoid of compassion. If it was said to be based on the Manson Murders from the start, it would have been less offensive. Outside of that the film isn’t badly made (there’s an impressive match cut in there), but it’s a derivative home invasion thriller which is well acted from the cast. It is deceitful and crass and left the sourest taste in my mouth.
Based on the 1865 novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov, Katherine (Florence Pugh) is sold into marriage to the pathetic son of large mining magnate. There she is given tough restrictions, one of which is that she is not allowed to leave the house. When her husband leaves, she meets the stable hand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis) and two embark on an illegitimate romance.
Lady Macbeth gets off to a very shaky start, which thankfully rectifies itself for the latter two thirds of the film. The shaky opening is in part due to the iffy circumstances in which romance blossoms between Katherine and the stable hand Sebastian (whose character is inconsistently written). Basically, the romance starts when Katherine gives in to Sebastian’s attempts to rape her, and for this reason it’s hard to get behind the romance that blooms between the two. However, it turns out that getting behind the two and their romance isn't the point and the films take a sudden left turn. The film’s sinister tone is magnified by Florence Pugh’s performance whose unshowy performances manages to generate a menacing feel with the merest of looks.
William Oldroyd works wonders behind the camera, the long, wide takes gives the film an casual observer's view on the proceedings, making for even more disturbing viewing. The sound design amplifies each and every sound from the footsteps on a wooden floor to the whistling the wind. It’s a beautifully made film, and perhaps one you would not have expected to see, and it’s better for that. It’s a film worth sticking with, and at less than 90 minutes there’s not long to stick with it.
As an animal lover Jessica Chastain must have loved a chance to work as closely with animals as she did in The Zookeeper’s Wife. In the film, Jessica Chastain plays Antonina Żabiński who, with the help of her husband Jan (Johan Heldenbergh), shelters hundreds of Jews within their zoo right under the Germans’ noses.
Working with female directors has also been something Jessica Chastain has always strived to do, and in this film not only is the director female, but so to is the writer so the film does offer a decent insight of the role of women in warfare and the role women played in protecting the persecuted Jewish people. Jessica Chastain is impressive in the lead role, adopting a so-so Polish accent, providing much of the film’s emotional core. Supporting her is Daniel Brühl with a performance that contains charm and menace in equal measure. It’s a decent film that fights for a place in dark part of history that has had an impressive calibre of films based upon it. It won’t be remembered among the best because the film is too timid (with the exception of one scene) compared to the most memorable of holocaust films.