Indie Film Review: 'Entwined' - An Outstanding Mix of Fantasy And Horror

This review contains spoilers. Score is at the bottom.

Entwined, a Greek horror/drama/fantasy film from first time writer/director Minos Nikolakakis, starring Prometheus Aleifer as Panos, a city doctor who relocates to a remote village after his father’s death. There, Panos sets eyes on Danae (Anastasia Rafaella Konidi, this being her second feature film), who lives in isolation with a mysterious skin condition. Determined to cure Danae, Panos soon discovers that Danae is not the helpless girl he had assumed her to be. Danae has some sort of magical power that keeps Panos trapped in the forest with her. Every time Panos tries to go home, he gets lost in the forest and ends up back in Danae’s cabin. Not knowing it was her doing, Panos stays with her and falls in love with Danae. However, strange things start occurring. Weeks after his stay, he becomes older, growing ten times faster than a normal human being. As it turns out, Danae sucks the life force of Panos every time they make love, to cure herself from her mysterious skin condition as well as to keep herself alive and looking young. Panos’ brother George (John De Holland) has been looking for him. Finally, after weeks without answers from Panos, George heads to the village as he finds Danae and falls in love with her. Conflict occurs between the brothers. In order to stop the fight, Danae, who turns out to be a tree creature, sacrifices herself for the brothers and turns into a tree.

The film opens with Panos at his father’s funeral. I like this opening scene as Minos Nikolakakis is able to foreshadow the ending. We see an alpha and omega symbol at the church, which represents a beginning
and an end. But instead, we start with an omega, which is an ending (death), and the film ends with an alpha, a beginning (life) where Danae becomes a tree and grows, representing a new beginning for the brothers.

Nikolakakis' artistic direction gave the film a sense of witchcraft, which is actually a mislead as the film becomes more of a fantasy film with horror elements. The good thing about this particular horror story is that there are no jump scares. Instead, we are given a sense of creepiness and eeriness. Nikolakakis took his time to build the characters' relationship, which seems like it would be a slow burn until the realization that you are at the mid point. This is smart writing. The use of the fire in this film is brilliant. It symbolized a desire of living for Danae. Fire symbolizes heat or sometimes anger, but a burning desire to live? That is what Nikolakakis had achieved with the use of the fire. The trees and the forest become an essential location that becomes a character itself. One can feel the presence of the trees, and how the forest tries to communicate with Panos.

Nikolakakis was able to build the chemistry and character development for Panos and Danae, like a married couple; there are ups and downs. This is a great metaphor for a rocky marriage in which the wife starts having an affair. In this case, it is with Panos’ brother George. Superb performances from Anastasia Rafaella Konidi, Prometheus Aleifer, and John De Holland.

Not too many writers or directors could achieve the feat of conveying the pity, tragic flaws, recognition, suffering, reversal, and catharsis of these three characters. One can feel pity for Panos and George’s over their father's death, and pity for Danae’s because she is cursed as a tree creature. Panos’ tragic flaw is his caring act for others, which made him fall for Danae, while George cares too much about his brother. Danae’s tragic flaw is how she keeps herself alive in light of the curse.

As for recognition, Panos comes back wanting to marry Danae, while Danae’s recognition is when she shows Panos his way back to the village. George's recognition is when he decides to go to the village to look for Panos. Panos’ suffering takes place when he is grieving from his father’s death and when he is trapped in the forest where he gets frustrated and feels isolated. George is heartbroken when Panos leaves to the village. Danae’s suffering results from her struggle with her curse. The reversal is when Panos decides to come back to Danae after finding the road back to the village. George’s reversal is when he stops trying to kill Panos after they fight. Danae’s reversal is when she sacrifices herself by turning off the fire pit and becomes the tree.

The catharses of George and Panos happen simultaneously when the brothers walk away together, forgiving each other and starting of a new beginning for themselves. Meanwhile, Danae’s catharsis takes place when she was buried, and the tree from her body starts growing. We actually see these six unities on each of these three characters. I am very pleased and impressed because it is very rare in films to see these six unities, especially on three characters where one of them (George) is just a very small supporting character. Somehow, Nikolakakis was able to pull this off.

The use of the score in this film is brilliant. Sotiris Debonos is an amazing composer, considering that this is his first narrative feature film. His score was able to elevate the horror element. The scenes were not scary necessarily, but the score conveys the eeriness and creepiness. It may misdirect viewers into thinking that this is more like a witchcraft film, where you are just waiting on the witch to show up. Brilliant. The cinematography is amazing. Thodoros Mihopoulos, who started his career as a focus puller and camera operator and whose credits include Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, gave us beautiful scenery and meaning to each scene he shot. His angles preserve creepiness and eeriness. The use of color gives each scene a character of its own.

Overall, this is an outstanding art house horror film that everyone should give a chance to see it when it comes out. If you like art house films, especially horror/fantasy, this is it. Nikolakakis nailed it as a first time writer/director. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars.

Entwined opens in virtual theaters Friday, August 28 with a North American VOD release to follow on September 8 on all major platforms.