Krisha

It would seem that first-time writer-director Trey Edward Shults’s own family life has considerably influenced Krisha, a well-received but still relatively obscure 2016 title. His real-life aunt Krisha Fairchild stars in the titular role, playing an estranged family member who returns to the fold on Thanksgiving, having apparently overcome various addictions, while Shults himself also appears as a character named Trey. It’s a chamber piece set entirely within Krisha’s sister’s large house, where various members of the family have congregated, and the film’s most notable for the way Shults gradually increases the tension, building a pressure-cooker atmosphere by employing a discordant soundtrack (both in terms of the slightly avant garde score and the emphasis on certain sounds, such as dogs barking), as well as fractured editing techniques. It becomes quite difficult to sit comfortably and watch while various old wounds are reopened, the negative side of certain characters bubbles up to the surface and Krisha struggles to stay off the wagon, and Fairchild is very impressive at the centre of it all. A promising debut, though one that does get slightly weighed down by all its verbose indie tics. (***½)