Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Language and brief Violence
Directed by: Jack Heller
Written by: Shawn Christensen & Jason Dolan
Starring: Scott Eastwood, Sara Paxton, Katherine Waterston, Shaun Sipos & Christopher Denham
ENTER NOWHERE sprung onto my radar after its premiere at 2011’s Screamfest. The premise sounded somewhat similar to Jean-Paul Sarte’s diabolical NO EXIT (which I would love to see adapted into cinematic form), so I was anticipating something in the same sort of vein. The age-old line of “Hell is other people.” could be used to great effect in a claustrophobic thriller about three people seemingly stuck in the middle of nowhere with only each other as company. However, that’s not what ENTER NOWHERE is at all. Instead, this plays out as a sort of morality play mixed with a TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode that somehow wound up being stretched to a feature-length running time. The direct-to-video B-flick clearly had ambition behind it, but botches that up through a messy screenplay. Though it has a couple of small merits, everything else about the film is subpar.
Jody is a mulleted thief who makes a living by robbing convenience stores. Samantha is a nervous wife who has recently become pregnant. Tom is a bland and sarcastic good guy who just wants to help those around him. These three people all inexplicably wind up stranded at a cabin in the middle of nowhere. To make matters even worse, the bleak wooded landscape surrounding them doesn’t appear to have a clear way out. In fact, it almost seems as if the trails they take are leading them in circles. As their food and water rations dwindle, the trio discover that being lost in the middle of nowhere is not the only thing that connects them and things get really strange (and borderline stupid) from there on out.
In our post-M. Night Shyamalan age, ENTER NOWHERE suffers from being a project that was seemingly constructed all around a single twist. Instead of forming fleshed out characters (about two details are given for each and then repeatedly harped upon for remainder of the film), NOWHERE hinges on its big reveal. I thought I had the film figured out from frame one and to its credit, that was not the case. The surprise is actually fairly original and creative, but the execution is muddled and poorly thought out. It’s clear that ENTER NOWHERE was a super low-budget effort from the very beginning and the production values are shoddy to say the least. There are issues with sound quality (bad mic work, stock music) and all of the acting is mediocre. The latter is especially true of Sara Paxton, who seems downright miscast in her role as the tough girl (complete with a forced overuse of profanity). The biggest problems with ENTER NOWHERE come once the big reveal has occurred. The movie doesn’t come up with a satisfying way of explaining its twist (no spoilers will be given here) and wanders into outright pointless territory as soon as the surprise hits.
ENTER NOWHERE gets credit for having a cool twist, but the whole film is built upon that twist. As a result it feels like a micro-budget Shyamalan wannabe that happens to center around a trio of bland characters. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece or anything particularly great, but I was hoping that ENTER NOWHERE might wind up as an enjoyable hidden gem. Instead, it’s yet another in a long line of cheap direct-to-video fare that should remain forgotten and overlooked. Skip it, especially now that it’s recently hit in the UK under the title of THE HAUNTING OF BLACK WOOD (which makes absolutely no sense given the context of the film).