Director: Luke Massey (’500 Miles North’)
With the increase in popularity of the torture-porn sub-genre and continuous horror remakes over the past decade, few new films in the genre have provided original ideas or have left a lasting emotional effect on viewers. But the new horror thriller ‘Warhouse,’ which premiered at the Cannes Market on Sunday, finally provides a much-needed psychological take on the genre. The film questions a man’s humanity and sanity after being imprisoned and forced to kill in order to survive.
‘Warhouse’ follows Royal Marine A.J. Budd (played by Joseph Morgan), as he awakens in a mysterious house and is forced to fight for his life every day against inhuman opponents. In order to stay alive, A.J. must kill his opponents inside his unchanging prison, from which he is unable to escape. As days turn into years, the isolation and violence threaten his soul.
The only hope A.J. has to stay alive lies in the journals of a former prisoner of the warhouse, World War I officer Lieutenant Edward Sterling (portrayed by Matt Ryan). Behind a secret wall, A.J. discovers the journals, which serve as a mentor to the young marine and help keep him alive. A.J. wonders what happened to Edward, as the endless killing leads him into taking terrible measures.
Morgan was well-cast in the role of A.J., as he convincingly showcased the character’s deteriorating emotional and mental state over the course of the film. While A.J. spends most of ‘Warhouse’ alone, and there is minimal dialogue, Morgan initially presents his character as strong and determined to find a way to win back his freedom. But as the years pass without any hope or chance of escape, A.J.’s only solace is in the journals left behind by Edward. Morgan perfectly balanced the question of what happened to Edward and the slight hope that he was able to escape with the realization that there’s little chance that he’ll be freed from his prison.
First time film director Luke Massey, who co-wrote the horror thriller with Benjamin Read, intriguingly created a story that reflects on people’s will to fight, and the lengths they’ll go to survive. It’s easy for viewers to initially question why A.J. wouldn’t just give up killing just to stay trapped in the house without any human contact or chance of escaping. But the film ultimately perfectly parallels the internal struggles war veterans experience after returning home, and the emotional toll the continuous fight to stay alive takes on them.
With the recent increase in visually shocking horror films that mainly focus on blood and gore to shock their audiences, ‘Warhouse’ takes a risky move by instead focusing on the traumatic psychological effects killing has on a person. Isolated with no obvious chance of escaping his new prison, A.J. courageously tries to keep his composure as he searches for a way to stay alive and keep his humanity. ‘Warhouse’ effectively isn’t just about a soldier trying to psychically stay alive in his new reality upon returning home from war; it also intriguingly showcases his increasing desperation to find a way to survive and escape his new emotional war.
Written by: Karen Benardello