Released Oct. 5, 2018
Rated PG-13 – 1hr 34min
Directed by Chris Eigeman
Starring Travis Tope, Haley Ramm, Gary Cole, Jacinda Barrett
While at a keggar, Jude (Tope) and June (Ramm) are picked to play the game Seven Minutes in Heaven, where a random couple go into a closet to maybe make out, maybe not. Jude and June don’t, as they’re not particularly fond of each other, but when they emerge, they find themselves in a different but similar reality – one where people are much more hostile, their friends hate them, and Jude is a wanted killer.
Seven in Heaven is an odd sci-fi/horror film that amplifies awkward situations to generate tension and dread. It very much plays by its own rules and while the type of story it tells is pretty standard fare, the way it goes about it is as unique as it is bizarre.
Seven in Heaven plays like a movie that might have been written by some kind of artificial intelligence that is approximating teen life in the American suburbs after being fed a steady stream of parenting blogs. This is one of 21 films that genre mega-producer Jason Blum has slapped his name on so far this year, and while I know he’s got some deep pockets, that would be a pretty bold experiment. Joking aside, this is a weird-ass flick. I get that it’s supposed to be, as the protagonists travel through a number of alternate realities (that number is two, by the way) that are intended to be alarming in their subtle yet apparent differences.
Yet, their home universe is strange too. Characters say and do vaguely peculiar things and react, or don’t react, to events in ways that are quietly unnerving. Intentional or not, Seven in Heaven is an exercise in the uncanny valley – the phenomenon where things are almost realistic but aren’t, and that small differential becomes profoundly disturbing. If this were a comedy or straight-up drama, it would be extremely cringey, but in horror? Well, it works to some degree because it fucked up my head a bit.
As such, it’s difficult to even get a read on the acting in this film. For the most part, everyone is some kind of Stepford person – an obvious imitation of an actual human being, not unlike the ‘sunken’ characters in Get Out – and this is regardless of which universe they’re in. This applies to the two main characters as well, and they’re supposed to be the same throughout. Seven in Heaven gave me flashbacks to Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take, which likewise had inexplicably alien people living in a perplexing bizarro world, but that endeavor was embarrassingly unintentional and I’m not entirely certain that’s the case here. Also, the dialogue here is nowhere near as tone-deaf as Soul, but it’s still off-key.
The important question is though, ‘Was it a good movie?’ I don’t think it was. Not horrible, but I’m not sure who I would recommend it to. I guess there’s a context where Seven in Heaven works well as some kind of puzzling allegory about teenage social struggles, but that might be a reach. Or maybe you can watch it to let me know if it’s really as weird as I thought it was, because I’m still confused about it. I’m fairly positive that it didn’t make any sense on top of my earlier complaints. If it was purposefully made to be this wonky, than it deserves a higher grade, but I suspect it wasn’t, so…