Poor Agnes is a stunningly shot psychological thriller that twists the blade and laughs at your discomfort.
Then film follows a young serial killer, Agnes (Lora Burke), who is disgusted by humanity. She’s a natural predator, killing for fun as often as she pleases. One day, a young man, Mike (Robert Notman), comes to her door to interview her about a friend that disappeared years ago. He soon falls into her dangerous trap, sparking a twisted and unhealthy co-dependency.
Poor Agnes hones in on the complexities of an abusive relationship. Dinner scenes between Agnes and her captive carry the weighty undertones of a domestic dispute waiting to happen. The fact that she may very well kill him is always there – Mike flinches away from her anger and tries to placate her sour moods.
The audience may wonder in frustration why Mike plays along – why he is willingly complicit in her heinous actions. It’s perhaps less symptomatic of Stockholm syndrome and more suggestive of Battered Person syndrome. Mike is held prisoner in this twisted “relationship” and the lines begin to blur between what he is subjected to and what he is participating in.
The idea of a female tormentor leading this dark dance is refreshing. There isn’t as much focus on abusive relationships with a male victim and they’re often dismissed by other men, causing them to go unreported.
Agnes is manipulative, violent, impulsive, and sociopathic. Actress Lora Burke is perfection in the role, delivering her lines with a cold distance. Her subtle facial expressions convey the tsunami of anger and frustration bubbling behind the surface. Her performance is compelling.
Director Navin Ramaswaran deftly moves the puzzle pieces of Agnes and Mike’s relationship into place, highlighting the skill of his actors by allowing them to communicate the minutia of the each scene beyond the dialogue.
Poor Agnes is a complex and thrilling film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Featured image via Bad Feeling Magazine