Stemming from trauma and multiple fears of the outside world, agoraphobia is arguably the most severe irrational fear, causing such debilitating affliction that one cannot leave their own home. This phobia has been used as a focal point in many films and series, including Citadel (2012), The Last Days (2013) and the current season of American Horror Story: Cult. Tackling this concept while incorporating a unique spin is Michael Bardon and Blair Hoyle in their first full-length feature, Happy Endings Are A Rarity.
Plagued with trauma from his past, Landon (Will Bryant) has struggled for four years with agoraphobia, leaving him a prisoner in his own home. Approaching their last semester of college and the next chapter of their lives, Landon’s friends, Wyatt (Cullen Ries) and Jamie (Phil Culton), and girlfriend, Summer (Paige Smith), visit Landon’s home. Laughs are shared as they reminisce on old high school stories until plans for the future are uncomfortably brought up through discussion. As the night goes on, conversation returns to the good old days, ending the night on a more uplifting note.
Memories brought back from the past trigger something unnatural, causing unexplainable occurrences to haunt the only place Landon feels safe. Feeling a distance growing between himself and his friends as well as a strain on his relationship, these seemingly paranormal events may be hallucinations brought on by stress. However, convinced that he is not crazy, Landon insists that everything he has seen is real. As these experiences become more intense, the truth is uncovered with one hell of a twist.
Through simplicity, crafty dialogue and a well-written script, Bardon and Hoyle pack an outstanding amount of material into a feature that merely runs an hour. Filmed in black and white, Happy Endings Are A Rarity captures the dreary, isolated life of someone living with agoraphobia. This is paired with a great performance by Bryant, who conveys a heightened level of frustration as Landon is stuck inside while he watches his friends about to move on with their lives. Smith amplifies the feeling of exasperation by flawlessly portraying a girlfriend who has demonstrated undying loyalty and patience, but is feeling the full weight of Landon’s burdening condition.
Though it is a slow burn, Happy Endings Are A Rarity is riddled with clues to an ending that doubles its pace with an applause-worthy twist. While some dialogue could have been replaced with more strange events for quicker plot development, this feature is driven by mystery as truths slowly unravel. Fans of artistic independent films that blend mystery, drama and horror with a touch of comedy will thoroughly enjoy this feature.