Much like the movie’s poster, which features a woman inside a bright red inkblot, Krisha is a wound about to be opened by forces she can’t control.
Invited to her sister Robyn’s Thanksgiving party, we see Krisha arrive and slowly make her way into the large family house, a place she’s clearly uncomfortable with from the word go. The meeting between this estranged character and her extended family goes with bouts of pleasant awkwardness, as they exchange hellos, short talk with that raised tone of politeness, show her around the house, the room she’ll be occupying where she meets one of the family dog, and so on, and so on. It’s a long sequence where Krisha, our main character, is seen in the edges of the frame, always, mute, a spectator in a party she may not revel in but has come to anyway, observing but vaguely lost as the hustle and bustle circles around her, restless.
Once these exchanges are over and Robyn is off to go fetch her mother, leaving Krisha with the sole task of overseeing the turkey, things start to unravel only slightly. Trey Edward Shults keeps the camera in almost constant movement while at the same time he plays some discordant music in the background that slowly begins to mirror Krisha’s own psyche (if telegraphing it a little too loudly). Interspersed in between scenes where she’s alone in the house (as other guests are huddled in their own corners, self-involved in television or small talk) are scenes with Krisha and her brother in law who seems to have been given the best lines in the picture and chews on them with gusto as he moves a conversation topic from having to tolerate his wife’s penchant for dogs (12 of them) to the topic of Krisha herself.
Which is something Krisha does not wish to share with him and thus with the movie goer. When that conversation ends, somehow, Krisha starts to progressively unravel. Moving around the house she becomes privy to a private conversation, but that’s not what interests her: we’ll come to know what it is, soon enough as she opens and closes cabinets with the stealth of a burglar.
Without disclosing what happens, it’s safe to say that Krisha morphs into the gaping wound it was always bound to be once she in desperation locks herself in the bathroom and does something unthinkable after meeting her mother, who is senile, and seeing how shut out she is from her family, especially her son. While the scene that unravels is extremely tense, it doesn’t, even then, complete the picture and leaves too many unanswered questions. All you manage to get from the movie is that the woman is clearly a walking disaster and that perhaps her sister is better off in shutting all forms of communication from there on. Other than that, this is a pretty stylish picture, with shots that draw you into the story, but leave you no closer to solving the riddle Krisha is. Where Krisha suffers the most I believe is in its dialog: too much reeks of indie dialog spoken on the improv, and how many times has one heard the “I’m just trying to find myself” in pictures like these?
Too many. Even so, Krisha is a striking debut from a young director who knows his way around setting a mood and enhancing visual suspense with even mundane elements and cutting in between time frames to present a final, broken yet intact whole.