When Occupied opens to a pretty blonde with a nice spiral perm sleeping on the beach under a blue filter and new age music, it immediately got me worried that this is going to be an art film. Rolling her bicycle down the woodland road to a log cabin does nothing to allay my fears.
Still, the production values are good – video and sound are professional quality as the blonde is greated by what appears to be an extended family member (a niece?) that she is staying with at the house. Weird that we don’t see the parents though, the father – who has set up in cameras all through the house – makes a phone call to check up on our characters and about the 21 minute mark, but otherwise there’s not another human it sight.
Our first act is spent getting to know our main character and her niece, exploring the area – the little girl with a video camera constantly in her hand.
As we begin the second act, the voices began to swirl in our main characters head. More creepy new age music pops up as she writes strange things in her notebook and tries to find her way into the forbidden room… Did I mention, the log cabin has a forbidden bedroom? It’s always locked and off-limits the niece informs her. Her father works in there and keeps it locked even when he’s working (Don’t sweat it. That whole thing is a red herring. So are the cameras).
It’s the notebook though, the notebooks seems to be the trigger of her madness. As she begins her descent in earnest I find myself wondering more and more what’s going on – is this a procession flick? Is it just a crazy girl movie? A haunting? This is kind of information I need, and it’s not apparent on the box.
In the end, The best way I can describe this is as a suspense film made by an art film student who watches too many lifetime movies. Being under 90 minutes, it’s not over long – the film takes exactly as much time as it needs, no more, no less. There are some interesting moments here, and occasionally we hit a really well done emotional beat. You really do feel for the niece in particular. Ultimately though, nothing actually happens in the film. It comes off too much like a soap opera and feels out of place in this horror set (Though I can’t imagine where else it would play).