Ezekiel Decker co-writes and directs his debut with The Woman Under the Stage. A multi-layered psychological horror and a one-way ticket to the fear of the unknown
The Woman Under The Stage stars Jessica Dawn Willis as actress, Whitney. A new mysterious play has been casting its lead and Whitney has just auditioned. The thing is, she has no idea what this play is about. That, and she has no idea what it’s about to do for her mental state. She is told that the playwright killed himself moments after completing the play. The opening night would be the first time this play has ever been put on stage for the world to see. Desperate for the leading role and frightened to say no to its casting director she accepts the role. She is then told that she will be cut off from the outside world for months. Her time will be spent with the rest of the cast while they rehearse the play and get it ready for the stage. Let the madness begin.
I think this film touched on the underbelly and seediness of some casting directors when they cast female leads. She is asked at her audition if is she in a relationship or if is she scared that she may be cast on her looks and not her performance. I think it is a very important subject to touch on and done superbly, underlining the horrid methods of some creeps with casting power. The casting director is played so well by Matthew Tompkins. He really brought uneasiness to the film, constantly messing with Whitney’s head and mental state, pushing her to limits beyond breaking point.
Jessica Dawn Willis gives a truly brilliant performance. Her character ticks all the boxes; vulnerability, fear and using this with great confidence. Then, to top off the great performance, we get to see Willis blast out her best Shakespear-like acting. I honestly gave a shit about her character, and it was tremendous to watch the madness unfold.
The lighting, cinematography and direction were exceptional with some very interesting uses of mirrored shots (which I am obsessed with). What this team has achieved on a small budget is phenomenal. It proves that independent cinema, when done right can be breaking the shoulders of any mainstream production.
I would describe The Woman Under The Stage as a multi-layered psychological horror film.
While the gore and violence were minimal, the psychological aspect of The Woman Under The Stage was great. It really puts you inside the mind of a paranoid and broken character. The human psyche can be a terrifying place.
The rest of the cast also does a phenomenal job. The theatre director, and the cast of the play all play their parts so well.
A beautiful, haunting OST is also a big player in this film. The OST is suited so well to the mood, colour palette and vibe of the film. A combination of dark, piercing minor-key orchestral strings really amps up the tension sending some genuine shivers down your spine.
As far as the plot goes, it was superb. It is an area of the horror subgenre we don’t get to see. We’ve a solid story about a cursed play, a handful of cast members and then there’s the actual cursed play which had me glued to the screen just as much as the main story of the film. An awesome achievement by this team.
The Woman Under The Stage is available to stream on Amazon Prime and Vudu.
As always, thanks for reading.