Business partners Jennifer and Samantha are invited on a weeklong yachting voyage with a potential investor. Jennifer begins to have strange dreams, and it becomes clear that she may have brought something else with her.
I’ve been sitting on my thoughts about this film for two days now. If I’m being completely honest, I think PRESENCE plays like a rushed prequel to a horror franchise. All the elements are in place for some seriously scary storytelling. Yet somehow, I was left with more questions than answers.
Writer-director Christain Schultz gives us a damaged lead in Jennifer. She has emotional trauma that feels unresolved, even in the final moments. I wanted specifics, other than everyone around her referencing a “breakdown in New York.” Jenna Lyng Adams has moments of badassery, but they are few and far between (no fault of her own). I was also slightly confused about the dynamic of Jennifer and Sam’s relationship. At first, I thought they were lovers. It was a bit messy. Schultz and co-writer Peter Ambrosio ultimately make Jennifer a victim, even though I believe the intention was a reclamation of power through supernatural forces. I’m unclear whether this was an editing issue or a script issue.
I must say that the performance of Dave Davis is my favorite part of the film. Davis gives depth to the building mystery, in some moments with nothing but a panicked stare. His intensity immediately reeled me in, calming me during my desperation to make sense of the plot. I would watch an entire film about his journey with the Presence. That’s the story that hooked me instantly.
Overall, PRESENCE got me revved up with slick visuals but never satisfied me with its overall arc. I don’t need it spelled out because the bones are there. I was looking for a further explanation of “why” all around.