After a group of workers on strike are laid off, a young man decides to follow their former boss to his home out in the country. Things turn deadly, quickly, after the young man sneaks into the home and now he finds himself hiding out in the mansion — taking on the persona of his former boss. However, it isn’t before long that the young man realizes he’s not alone.
With Mike Flanagan’s “Hush” having a very successful run on the VOD market and receiving positive acclaim across the board. I was inspired to finally check out a home invasion based film that caught my attention last year called “The Man in the Orange Jacket”. The film boasts the label as being “Latvia’s first horror movie”, and whether that’s true or not, I cannot say with certainty. However, if it is, I hope to see more films of this caliber being produced by Latvian filmmakers as there was both a great deal of competency on display.
To call “The Man in the Orange Jacket” a home invasion movie isn’t entirely correct. The general synopsis you can find on the movie states that Dan (the man in the orange jacket) stalks his boss’s wife. While not untrue, that aspect of the story is completed within the first 10 minutes of the movie. After which, the movie takes a different but much more satisfying approach to the home invasion plot by focusing on what happens after. Albeit in a more abstract manner.
Granted, such a statement hints at a morality tale but that’s not the film’s purpose either. Aik Karapetian has his film explore the idea of violence and social-class being cyclical — that it’s easy enough for you to become the thing that you fight against. Or in the case of Dan, violently murder. And what makes the story gratifying is that it’s told almost exclusively through visual cues as the vast majority of the runtime is spent with Dan wandering the haunted halls of the cold, empty home of his victims. Relying on moody driven atmospheric cinematography, we watch as Dan goes from this lower-class individual who crudely shovels food down his throat at a high-end restaurant, to embodying the kind of person who drove him to murder in the first place.
What I particularly enjoyed about this setup is that the film uses the character’s conscience and paranoia to drive the movie forward in terms of, not only story, but atmosphere and tension as well. There is a supernatural-like tone within the movie in order to leave the audience unsure of what’s happening but it never goes for anything big — the movie never demeans itself by startling the audience. Instead it wants to exude a feeling of unease from the uncertainty and successfully does so while creating imagery and setups that can get under your skin. In one such particular instance, Dan — who’s sipping coffee from chinaware while smoking a cigar — steps out onto a balcony and peers across a pond to see a man in an orange jacket. It’s a simple image but one that can grab the viewer while simultaneously giving you insight into the mindset of Dan.
As much as I enjoyed the movie, I’m not sure how receptive people are going to be with “The Man in the Orange Jacket”. For me, it had me hooked because it was a quiet, methodical movie that uses the psychology of the character at atmosphere to drive everything forward. However, those things that I liked and admired about the movie could be considered too boring for others, as there are only a few brief (but well placed) scenes of violence. And with a conclusion that might be a bit too ambiguous, or too open-ended, along with Aik Karapetian using paranoia and silence to distill horror, it’s hard to know with certainty how well the movie will play for a general audience. Regardless, “The Man in the Orange Jacket” was a surprisingly intelligent and well crafted movie that has me looking forward to what the director does next.