Cora is a recovering drug addict who lost her son due to her negligence five years prior. The film opens with a shocking crime scene and a traumatized, bloodied, and rambling Cora in the sheriff’s office. How did we get here? Cora spins a tale of otherworldly proportions filled with grief, regret, and chance. How far would you go to see your loved one again?
Writer-director Thomas Marchese and co-writer Jessub Flower dive into the subgenre without apology. When grief counselor Abel offers Cora the opportunity to see Noah again, her response is an immediate “Yes.” Anyone that sits in sadness understands the answer. Spellbook, chalk drawings, and salt circles in tow, Abel guides Cora on a step-by-step journey of possible redemption. The audience is smart enough to know there are stills attached. That never lessens the intensity of the plot.
Anna Camp plays Cora. She is unrecognizable in this role. Audiences usually recognize her perky personality and blonde hair. Raven-haired and emotionally battered, Cora brims with complexity. Camp allows herself to dive deep into grief and regret. It is an out-of-the-box performance for her, and she is magnificent. I’d love to see her in more dark roles. She can handle them.
The addiction and trauma allegories are particularly evident in Cora’s final moments. While I had the overall plot pegged early on, the finale surprised me. Duncan Cole’s intense cinematography, combined with Luigi Janssen’s ominous score, grabs you by the throat from the beginning. The editing is a triumph that keeps you poised on the edge of your seat. A Faustian look beyond the veil, FROM BLACK is a grief-fueled nightmare. It will satisfy every level.