FrightFest 2016 had its highs and lows but by far the film that stayed with me well after the fantastic festival ended and right up until now was Pet. Directed by Spaniard Carles Torrens and penned by The Exorcist TV series creator Jeremy Slater it is a mind blowing horror featuring a pair of pitch perfect performances from the leads Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo.
A movie much better experienced as I did without knowing absolutely anything about it I almost feel as if writing this review I am preventing any readers truly enjoying it as it should be seen so please feel free to abandon this website right now and watch the film. Seriously I am happy to wait here till you get back.
For those that need a little more convincing I will endeavour not to give too much away as we go on which is very hard to do believe me. The plot revolves around Dominic Monaghan’s Seth a shy uncomfortable recluse who works in an Animal Control centre.
Dedicated to his job and the dogs in his care he has little in his life other than his obsession with a waitress named Holly, played by Ksenia Solo, who works in a local diner he visits purely for the purpose of seeing her.
Determined to make her his girlfriend Seth explores every avenue at first sincerely but increasingly becoming creepier cyber stalking Holly and freaking her out by following her around. Having no interest in him she rebuffs his unsettling amorous advances already having plenty to deal with including her cheating ex-boyfriend Eric (True Blood’s Nathan Parsons) and judgmental roommate Claire (Jennette McCurdy).
Fate conspires in Seth’s favour however when Holly loses her journal and he finds it finally gaining a window into her inner most thoughts. From here it is clear what he has to do to her and the first step is to build a cage.
Praise must go to Pet’s solid direction and great story and script however even more must go to the acting skills of Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo for bringing the deeply complex characters to life and taking us on a psychotic and twisted ride into both their psyche’s.
Although it may not sound like it from the synopsis Pet’s power comes from turning many stalker and thriller conventions on their head bringing forth a truly original battle of wits between the leads and leading the audience on a dark dance to the beat of both their disturbed drums.
Famous for major roles in Lost and Lord of the Rings Monaghan amazingly fleshes out a character that is almost invisible to the rest of the world he inhabits. Lonely and isolated Seth is the stereotypical stalker psycho but in Monaghan’s talented hands he transforms into a multifaceted frail individual, repellent yet relatable at various different moments in the movie.
With roles in, Orphan Black, Lost Girl and Black Swan Ksenia Solo may be slightly less well known but more than matches Monaghan’s powerful performance with her own skills taking Holly from clichéd victim to active aggressor seamlessly within the space of the story as the roles reverse time and again and the games being played gain higher and more sinister stakes.
As much about the conflict and collision of our inner and outer lives as it is about obsessive love taken to a disturbing and damaging extreme Pet is as poignant as it is petrifying and with its heart wrenching ending its also possibly one of the most warpedly romantic horror movies ever made.