PREMATURE EVALUATIONS: POOR AGNES 2017 dir. Navin Ramaswaran


I want to trust in people’s best intentions. I feel that if we employed and practiced empathy, we would all be in a better situation as a society. If we as a people are inherently good, then embracing that will allow us all to grow. Herein lies a problem. Not everyone is inherently good. And there are those that hide amongst us that are purely sociopathic, using a façade to get what they want. And in the film POOR AGNES, having it’s US premiere November 5th at Music Box Cinepocalypse, we get a glimpse into the mind of one of these people.

Agnes Poelzl (Lora Burke, FOREST FAIRIES, EXPECTING) is our main focus in this tale. Think of a female Patrick Bateman but set in a small Canadian town. While she’s not returning video tapes, she is constantly training herself and practicing her skills capturing people, finding a way to torture them, and ultimately killing them. She does this by any means necessary, playing a victim or seductively, it all depends on her target. By taking this power, she feels like she’s gradually coming closer to being a God.

“Men murder whores. Women murder babies. What does that make me?”

Agnes is given the opportunity to grow even more when Mike Mercer (Robert Notman, MORSE CODE) shows up in her town. Mike is a private investigator researching a missing person case of a young man whose path may have crossed that of Agnes. Instantly taken by her charm, Mike is caught unaware as she springs her trap. What follows is a brutal look at torture, physical, and mental abuse; and how it affects the victims.

To put it mildly, Burke is a force to be reckoned with. As HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER put Michael Rooker on the map, this film can do the same. We see so many sides to her as she uses the tabula rasa of Agnes’ soul to manipulate those around her. Despite it being so disturbing, I can’t help but feel that a role like this would be an actor’s dream. To be able to go from one emotion to another, exhibit many different character traits in a short time, is what many strive for. Thankfully, Burke rises to this occasion and digs into it with a devilish glee.

Notman is an interesting piece of the story, as we are intrigued by what we see from Agnes, yet are also terrified of what she’s capable of. His character of Mike ends up doing the same, as we see him going through the effects of Stockholm Syndrome during his imprisonment. Will he escape? Will he become another victim? Or even worse, will he become her accomplice?

The film is beautifully shot, taking advantage of the gorgeous backdrop of Thunder Bay, Ontario. While being shot when there is still some snow on the ground, that isn’t really used as a plot point. While the thought of being suffocated by the cold winter weather is a common horror trope, it isn’t used here as that merely isn’t a factor to the evil of Agnes. No, our girl is All-Weather Evil.

All in all, POOR AGNES is a haunting look into the mind of a sociopath, and that of her victims. It is a strong statement from all involved, and it doesn’t pander to its audience nor romanticize abuse like the FIFTY SHADES series does.

POOR AGNES will be having it’s US premiere Cinepocalypse International Film Festival at the Music Box Theatre, located at 3733 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL 60613 on November 5th, 2017.

Tickets for the event can be purchased here.

POOR AGNES opens on November 17, 2017 for a run at the prestigious Gateway Film Centre 1550 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43201.
More locations and dates to be added shortly and available on the film’s official website http://www.pooragnes.com/

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