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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » The Fits
The Fits
Oscilloscope Laboratories // Unrated // June 3, 2016
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted June 2, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The dramatic horror film has become a more common occurrence, especially within the film festival circuit. Perhaps one of the most popular recent contributions is It Follows, which delivered its voice to the rape and STD discussion. However, I didn't find the film to be nearly as exceptional as many others did. Writer/director Anna Rose Holmer has made her feature debut creating a meaningful message through a similar combination of genres, although its execution is a bit more hard-hitting here. If nothing else, The Fits proves that this is a writer/director to watch.

Eleven year old Toni (Royalty Hightower) often trains at the gym while her brother is in boxing. She becomes fascinated with the dance group, but quickly finds herself struggling to fit in. Things become quite intense as some of the other members of the team begin to experience fainting spells and violent fits that nobody can find a reason for.

Much like other art house films, The Fits avoids the spoon-feeding that most Hollywood features suffer from. The audience is expected to put more thought into watching the film in order to get all that you can out of the experience. The occurrences of Holmer's feature are largely up to interpretation, although the overall metaphor clearly outlines the struggles in growing up and the pressure placed specifically on adolescent black females. Toni is an introvert who is constantly observing, making her perspective an interesting one to follow. Her actions express all that we need to know regarding her ambitions in this dance group, as she constantly practices the same routine wherever she is. There are numerous quick discussions that she observes, which ultimately play a large part in her character arc, as well as in understanding the film's metaphors that the final scene comments on rather nicely.

Running at only seventy-two minutes, The Fits is a rather compact film, although it focuses more on metaphors than anything else. While it never runs stale, the audience is given little to grasp onto. Character disposition is entirely replaced with nuances that express personalities and aspirations, but little else. The audience ultimately cares for Toni and her well-being, both in terms of her health and future in the dance group. However, its almost non-existant narrative will certainly impact the experience for many moviegoers. The film requires our patience, which some audiences will refuse to provide, although those who wait will be rewarded with an interesting perspective on the coming-of-age stories that we see each and every year.

If nothing else, The Fits is different from anything else out there. Despite it being comparable to It Follows in its rare genre mash-up, it is unlike anything else out there. It's a seemingly simple film, although its complexities can be found underneath the surface. The series of fits that take place initially appear to occur due to either bad water being consumed or dancing to exhaustion. This is the small bit of narrative tension that the film displays, which aids in delivering the film's horror elements, especially when supplemented with its overall haunting tone. The Fits manages to be incredibly atmospheric, even despite its lack of dialogue. There are plenty of things to like for film buffs, although they don't all quite come entirely together.

This may be writer/director Anna Rose Holmer's feature debut, although her presentation in The Fits says otherwise. This is an exceptionally wonderful looking film that has excellent framing and a phenomenal sense of movement. She's able to deliver many of her metaphors through the visual design, rather than simply being told via disposition or the narrative itself. These are signs of a fantastic director with a bright future ahead of them. Meanwhile, Royalty Hightower delivers a believable performance as Toni. She communicates a decent amount of depth through her facial expressions and curiosity of those in her surroundings.

The Fits is an interesting piece of social commentary from a unique voice presented by a phenomenal director. Anna Rose Holmer displays a fantastic use of framing and movement in her feature debut. The haunting score turns this personal drama into a horror picture. However, it doesn't quite give us enough to grasp onto to turn this good film into something extraordinary; it's just different. Its originality is a pro, although its almost non-existant narrative and cleverly subdued metaphors may be lost to many casual moviegoers. This is a solid feature debut for art film lovers, but it has me more excited to see what Holmer has coming up than it does about this title in particular. Even so, it comes with a recommendation to arthouse cinema lovers.

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