ALT | Altered States
In this thematically rich fantasy from Danishka Esterhazy (Black Field; H&G), teenaged Vivien (Katie Douglas) and Sophia’s (Celina Martin) rebellious tendencies are only amplified by their surreal existence: locked away in a sterile top secret facility, they’re taught the finer points of "feminine virtues" by Ms. Brixil (Sara Canning), a Stepford-like headmistress, and left to question what fate awaits them when they age out of the institution. They’ve been led to believe that all of the intense grooming regimens and strict sleep schedules they’ve endured have been in the service of making them ideal adoptive daughters for high-society families. However, there’s little reason for them to take anything they’ve been told at face value.
Boasting a delightfully morbid premise and a chilling setup, Level 16 ratchets up the insidious sense of wrongness before unleashing a truly skin-crawling climax. Wedding of-the-moment concerns (think The Handmaid’s Tale) to throwback aesthetics (think Joss Whedon’s criminally under-appreciated Dollhouse by way of Argento employing a desaturated palette), Esterhazy crafts a sinister allegory that packs a wicked feminist punch.