Ben Cresciman's Sun Choke continues the current woman-sliding-into madness film trend, but thankfully it's more of a piece with Queen of Earth than I Smile Back or the overpraised Krisha. Having recently suffered from a psychotic break, Janie (Sarah Hagan) is recovering under the strict, new-agey regimen of her longtime nanny and caretaker Irma (Barbara Crampton). Irma's methods are questionable at best and torture at worst, but they go unchallenged, Janie's mother having died and her father being away on business — or so Janie is told, at least.
In one of her occasional forays outside the house, Janie begins stalking a beautiful stranger named Savannah (Sara Malakul Lane), eventually kidnapping her and venting her frustrations toward Irma. Both Janie and Irma are unreliable narrators at best, harboring secrets and motivations they don't let each other (or us) in on; the only character whose motivations are entirely clear is Savannah, who just wants to go on with her life and not get drawn into Janie's violent, psychosexual personal hell. Though all three leads are strong, this is Hagan's picture — it's told entirely from Janie's increasingly fractured point of view, and Cresciman pulls the rug out from under the viewer on more than one occasion, flirting with but never quite veering into torture porn.
Ben CrescimanBarbara Crampton, Sarah Hagan, Sara Malakul Lane, Evan Jones, Joe NievesBen CrescimanGeorg Kallert, Rob Schroeder, Peter J. NievesLodger Films, Easy Open Productions