Lavender is a hauntingly beautiful supernatural tale about the horror of loss and the painful secrets we keep locked away
As a photographer myself, I understand the draw certain items or places have to my camera. Sometimes I find myself so taken by a location that I spend long periods of time documenting every little detail, for no good reason but that it calls to me.
Because of this I was in love from the beginning with the beautiful and mournful ghost story, Lavender. The loss of family hangs heavily in this supernatural tale.
Our main character, Jane, played wonderfully by Abbie Cornish, can’t remember anything about her childhood (including her whole family’s brutal deaths) except what she’s been told; that it was all a terrible accident.
Jane is a photographer who is obsessed with photographing abandoned farmhouses and speaks reverently about the families that she envisions living in them. Despite being a success in her business, her daughter Alice (Lola Flanery) and husband Alan (Diego Klattenhoff) seem bored by her work and cranky about her forgetfulness around the house.
After an auto accident leaves her with total amnesia, doctors discover that her memories might be more significant than she can imagine.
Writer/Director Ed Gass-Donnelly along with co-screenwriter Colin Frizzell take us on a journey through Jane’s mind, by tapping into her artistic process. Her need to capture and preserve the past, to recognize the families long gone from the empty buildings, leads to the revelation of long repressed childhood trauma.
She also discovers that the farmhouse that she was most fascinated by just happens to be her childhood home, — the site of the slayings — and has been taken care of since then by her uncle, a very stoic Dermot Mulroney.
In the film, we watch Jane piece together her past, but we see how fragile she is. Are these memories from her subconscious or something much more dangerous? As she tries to put the pieces together, Jane gets some supernatural help in the form of mysterious boxes, giving her clues to her past. Ghostly visits from the young girl who caused her car accident, warning her repeatedly then running away, make us wonder what it is she’s warning Jane about.
Lavender may be too slow for some, but I loved the visuals so much it didn’t bother me. The car crash sequence was amazing! Characters frozen in place take on a whole new meaning at the end then they did in the beginning. A crime scene that could have been gory and horrific takes on a portrait-like vibe when it’s stopped in time. A bit old-fashioned, Lavender reminds me of early Hitchcock psychological thrillers like ‘Rebecca’ and ‘Spellbound’.
There are many genre tropes used in the film, yet we still manage to get a twist at the end that I didn’t expect.
So, final thoughts. These are a few things I will always wonder about. Why in horror movies, when you find out your whole family (or any family) was killed in a house, would you want to go stay in it? Just saying. Is it always a good thing to remember past traumas? Or should some things be better off forgotten for good?
Oh, and stay out of hay mazes too. Mazes and horror movies…not a good plan. Just FYI.
Lavender is currently available on Netflix.