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Laramie Movie Scope: Sanctuary

Increasingly scary series of psychological games

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 21, 2024 – This dark claustrophobic comedy, confined largely to just two people in one closed space, is not only hampered by these limitations, but even more so by the fact that these two people are really, really annoying. It raises the question, why do some filmmakers insist on making more movies like “Sleuth” (1972) and “Deathtrap” (1982)?

In this case, it is not just a battle of wits and wills, but also a series of psychological games between the client, Hal Porterfield (Christopher Abbott of “James White”) and a sort of psychological hooker, Rebecca (Margaret Qualley of “My Salinger Year”). Rebecca is a dominatrix to Hal in these games, following a script written by Hal. In these games, Rebecca and Hal do not touch each other.

It appears that Rebecca and Hal have been playing these psychological role playing games for a long time, but Hal, who has recently inherited a multi billion dollar hotel chain, has decided to end the sessions. After a session, he thanks Rebecca for them and gives her an expensive watch as a going away present.

Rebecca starts to leave for the last time, but changes her mind in the hallway near the elevator, and returns to the apartment to confront Hal, saying she deserves millions of dollars in compensation for her work in building up his weak psyche. She is successful in her initial attempts to get money from Hal, but she keeps increasing her demands. She demands that he hire her for a high paying job in his company.

As the demands escalate, Rebecca tries to blackmail Hal. She also seduces him and uses other means to get him to agree to her escalating demands. She also threatens him with a knife. Pushed to far, Hal also threatens her with a knife, and things get very dicey indeed.

It turns out that all these conflicts and games are covering up what is really going on between these two people. It takes an awfully long time to get there, but there finally is a surprising resolution to this story.

I had a really hard time sitting through this movie because these two characters are so annoying. Rebecca just talks non-stop, spewing forth a series of wild speculations about Hal's past, present and future, based on what she knows about him. She keeps telling him that he is a loser, unfit to run a large company. This is super irritating. Hal is a wimpy guy who takes all these insults and comes back for more.

All this babbling, scheming and psychological warfare goes on way too long. This movie seemed like it was never going to end, even though it is only 96 minutes long. I did like the ending of the movie, even though it was not believable, but I was so fed up with it at that point, I could not really enjoy it, even though the two actors are quite good. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2024 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]