Color, 2024, 97 mins. 23 secs.
Directed by Eric Stanze
Starring Jackie Kelly, Jason Christ, Marcella Miller, Chaz Minner, Eric Stanze, DJ Vivona, Jim Ousley, Emily Haack
Wicked Pixel (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Six years after the Anxietycinematic freak out of In Memory Of, director Eric Stanze and the gang at Wicked Pixel Cinema have Anxietymade a belated return to experimental horror territory with 2024's Anxiety-- and needless to say, a lot has changed in the world since we last heard from them. Eric and his last film's star, Jackie Kelly (Tennessee Gothic), have gotten married, the world was permanently altered by an unprecedented pandemic, and the political landscape is violently fractured. All of those factors come into play to varying degrees in this film, which starts off with a rapid-fire montage of the Covid outbreak coverage that caused immeasurable mental strain on top of the physical toll. Isolating in place was a prime scenario for psychological horror that still hasn't been explored much, and here it gets tackled with a vengeance.

Still struggling from her recovery treatment for alcoholism, editor Renee (Kelly) is stuck working at home and hustling for gigs in St. Louis when she isn't following the video diary progress of her friend Alan (Christ), a video production guy who's turned to making his own adult content and doing Anxietyhome improvement with his husband. Stress, insomnia, vague echoes of her Catholic upbringing, hereditary psychological issues, a tragic turn for Alan, and fears about the well-being Anxietyof her half-sister Abby (Miller) soon overwhelm here and she plunges into a nightmare world of occult visions, clawed monsters, plague doctors, and other disorienting threats that ultimately lead to murder - or do they?

The idea of a woman losing her sanity in an isolated setting has been thoroughly covered in films like Repulsion, Symptoms, Images, Censor, and so on, but Anxiety separates itself by tying itself to a very specific point in world events that provide a very rational and believable explanation for mental fissures. On top of that, it boasts an interesting structure with the first half more or less grounded completely in the "real world" seen through Renee's eyes in lockdown as various real world traumas Anxietypile up around her. The second half is where the familiar Wicked Pixel flair comes through (with Stanze himself, Emily Haack, and DJ Vivona on hand to remind you just in case), with lots of Anxietymacabre imagery and jagged editing keeping you off balance. Once again Kelly proves herself more than capable of anchoring a feature with her performance, here going to some painful emotional places on the way to an ending that diverges significantly from where these kinds of stories usually go.

As of this writing, Anxiety is up for preorder on Blu-ray directly from Wicked Pixel with a variety of perk options. Frame grabs here are reflective of the version provided for review and will presumably be reflective of the final product, whose final specs should also be announced in the near future as well.

Reviewed on June 8, 2024