Unveiling the Enigma: A Closer Look at the 2015 Psychological Thriller


Release date: 5 August 2016 (USA)
Genre: Thriller/Drama
Director: Ben Cresciman
Cinematographer: Mathew Rudenberg
Budget: Unknown
Box office: Unknown



“In the dark corners of our minds, there are secrets we dare not confront.” This haunting line from Ben Cresciman’s 2015 film resonates as a harbinger of the enigmatic journey that “Sun Choke” offers to its audience. This psychological thriller delves deep into the complexities of the human psyche, weaving a narrative that challenges perceptions and blurs the lines between reality and delusion. As we venture into the heart of this enigma, we find a film that is as compelling as it is confounding. “Sun Choke” is a divisive piece of cinema, with moments of brilliance obscured by a fog of ambiguity. In this mixed review, we’ll dissect the film’s strengths and weaknesses, ultimately leaving you to decide whether this mind-bending journey is worth taking.


Sun Choke (2015)


The Performances

The performances in “Sun Choke” are a mixed bag. Sarah Hagan, known for her work in television, takes on the role of Janie, a disturbed young woman under the care of Irma, played by the enigmatic Barbara Crampton. Hagan’s portrayal of Janie is haunting and at times mesmerizing. She successfully conveys the character’s instability and inner turmoil, making it clear that Janie is a complex individual teetering on the edge of sanity.

On the other hand, Barbara Crampton’s portrayal of Irma, Janie’s caregiver, is intriguing but lacks depth. The character of Irma is shrouded in mystery, and while Crampton brings an air of intrigue to the role, the film never fully explores her character’s motivations and backstory. This leaves Irma feeling like a missed opportunity, a character who could have added more layers to the narrative.


The Cinematography

One of the undeniable strengths of “Sun Choke” is its striking cinematography. Mathew Rudenberg’s camera work paints a surreal and disorienting picture of Janie’s world. The film is bathed in an eerie, almost dreamlike atmosphere, with vivid visuals that plunge the audience into the depths of Janie’s troubled mind.

The use of close-ups and intimate shots adds to the sense of unease, allowing us to glimpse the raw emotions that swirl beneath the surface. The juxtaposition of the serene California landscape with the chaos within Janie’s mind creates a visually arresting contrast that keeps viewers engaged.


Sun Choke (2015)


The Narrative Ambiguity

Where “Sun Choke” both excels and stumbles is in its narrative ambiguity. The film teases viewers with fragments of Janie’s past and present, blurring the lines between reality and delusion. This deliberate obscurity is both a strength and a weakness. On one hand, it keeps the audience guessing, inviting them to unravel the mystery alongside the protagonist. On the other hand, it can feel frustratingly elusive, leaving many questions unanswered.

The film’s nonlinear storytelling, while ambitious, can also be disorienting. It demands active engagement from the audience, forcing them to piece together the fractured narrative. While this approach can be intellectually stimulating, it may alienate viewers seeking a more straightforward cinematic experience.


Themes and Subtext

“Sun Choke” delves into several complex themes, including the effects of trauma, identity, and the blurred boundaries between captor and captive. These themes are woven into the fabric of the narrative, offering viewers a thought-provoking exploration of the human psyche.

The film’s examination of the cyclical nature of abuse and trauma is particularly poignant. It highlights how the past can haunt and shape the present, leading to a perpetual cycle of victimhood and violence. However, the film’s handling of these themes is at times heavy-handed, with moments that veer into gratuitous and uncomfortable territory.


Sun Choke (2015)


Pacing and Resolution

One of the film’s notable shortcomings is its pacing. “Sun Choke” unfolds at a deliberately slow and measured pace, which may test the patience of some viewers. While the gradual unveiling of the story adds to the film’s sense of intrigue, it can also lead to moments of tedium.

Furthermore, the film’s resolution leaves much to be desired. As it hurtles towards its climax, “Sun Choke” raises numerous questions about Janie’s fate and the nature of her reality. Unfortunately, the resolution fails to provide the satisfying closure that many viewers may crave. It leaves a lingering sense of ambiguity that may leave some feeling unsatisfied.



In the enigmatic world of “Sun Choke,” where reality and delusion entwine, there are moments of brilliance and moments of frustration. The film’s captivating cinematography and Sarah Hagan’s haunting performance make it a compelling psychological thriller. However, its deliberate narrative ambiguity, uneven pacing, and unresolved questions may leave some viewers feeling perplexed and unsatisfied.

“Sun Choke” is a film that dares to challenge conventional storytelling, offering a thought-provoking exploration of trauma, identity, and the blurred lines between captor and captive. It demands active engagement and rewards those willing to delve into its murky depths. Whether it ultimately resonates with you or leaves you scratching your head, “Sun Choke” is an experience that will linger in your thoughts long after the credits roll.


My Rating: 5/10


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