Lauren (Christina Ricci) and her husband, Russell (Brendan Fletcher), move from the city to luxurious condominium situated in a quiet suburban town. She suffers from bipolar disorder nightmares while she struggles to cope with the aftermath of a tragedy, so her husband hopes that their new home will help her get better. The condominium, known as The Pinnacle, is a "smart" building equipped with security cameras and a security gate to make its residents feel very safe. Lauren begins to suspect that the building's electronics might be affecting her mentally, but her husband doesn't believe her. Vernon (John Cusack), a conspiracy theorist, convinces her of something much more widespread and disturbing.
Distorted is a slick and gripping psychological thriller that fizzles out by the end. That twist, which won't be revealed here, isn't very surprising and can be seen from a mile away, but it leads to many more questions than answers. The screenplay by Arne Olsen begins as an interesting character study that gets inside Lauren's head and makes you wonder whether her suspicions have any credibility or if she simply lost her mind. Director Rob W. King generates its eerie atmosphere through the set design, cinematography, musical score and editing, so the production design definitely adds plenty of style to the film.
Distorted could have used more emotional and intellectual depth. Once Lauren meets Vernon, the screenplay starts to take a sharp nosedive and becomes less plausible even within the film's internal logic. She meets him on the internet at first and, coincidentally, he lives close enough for them to meet in person. Coincidentally, he trusts her and, coincidentally, she trusts him even though they barely know each other. There are only so many coincidences that audiences can take before they stop caring about what happens to anyone onscreen. Vernon seems more like a plot device rather than a flesh-and-blood character. He that claims the conspiracy involving electronic mind-control reaches far beyond the Pinnacle into politics, but Distorted squanders its opportunity to add more scope or depth after teasing audiences with that exposition. More background information about Vernon would've made him a believable and interesting character.
Fortunately, Christina Ricci's raw, convincingly moving performance is one of the best of her career. It's great to see her in top form. Most importantly, though, her performance somewhat compensates for the screenplay's lack of emotional depth. Two much better psychological thrillers that took its premise to much more intelligent, bold and surprising places are Get Out and The Manchurian Candidate. Either of those films would make for a great double feature with Distorted which would be the inferior B-movie. Jean-Luc Godard once wisely observed that where you take ideas from isn't as important as where you take ideas to. Distorted doesn't take its ideas far enough, but at least it's suspenseful and entertaining for most of the time.
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