THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
The debut film THE YELLOW WALLPAPER from creative duo—Alexandra Loreth and Kevin Pontuti—is a chilling and boldly original vision of madness. Jane, a writer and young mother, is prescribed a rest treatment by her physician husband John, who takes her to a remote country estate for the summer. She becomes obsessed with the peculiar yellow wallpaper in the bedroom he has chosen for her. In her isolation, she secretly writes about a woman trapped in the wallpaper—that she must free.
Opening with a disturbing turn, The Yellow Wallpaper is a slow burn horror about Postpartum Depression and gaslighting. New mother Jane and her physician husband rent a summer home in hopes of settling Jane’s nerves after giving birth. Jane becomes obsessed with the wallpaper in the couple’s bedroom. As her behavior becomes more and more erratic, she is less understood by all those around me. Perhaps, it is because they are not truly listening.
The score from Robert Coburn haunts with heavy, ear-piercing strings, oboe, and maybe even bagpipe? I almost wish there were more music for me to contemplate. Era records, perhaps, to contrast such a purposeful and grating score. The slow, lingering closeups of the titular wallpaper are chilling. The costumes and set are outstanding. Bravo, to the hair and make-up team for their meticulous work. It did not go unnoticed.
Alexandra Loreth evenly plays Jane with the nuance of PPD topped off with gaslighting. Postpartum depression was not yet a diagnosis in the Elizabethan era. Nor is it acknowledged as much as it should be today, quite frankly. Loreth’s voiceovers are a nice reprieve from the predominant silence. Her performance hits its peak as her isolation and writings increase. The faster editing and closeups help greatly.
While the film opens with a bang, that same energy feels sapped in the one hour and forty minutes runtime. The Yellow Wallpaper would benefit from a 20 to 30-minute cut. I found myself glancing at the clock more than once. The final 20 minutes are, by far, the most intriguing. The variation and mounting intensity make The Yellow Wallpaper meaningfully upsetting. Loreth and director Kevin Pontuti penned the screenplay together. There’s a lot of depth and potential. You could easily make this a franchise with some tweaking.
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER is a dark and disturbing contemporary adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s well-known and controversial gothic feminist horror story about patriarchy and mental health. The film is a collaboration between partners Alexandra Loreth and Kevin Pontuti and stars Alexandra Loreth, Joe Mullins, Clara Hart, and Jeanne O’Connor. The film was written by Alexandra Loreth and Kevin Pontuti and directed by Pontuti. THE YELLOW WALLPAPER has a running time of 99 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA. The film World Premiered at Cinequest followed by a successful festival run. Mutiny Pictures will release the film on March 29.