While Amber’s Descent (2021) isn’t perfect, it has promise, and there’s a payoff for those who stick around to the end.
Amber is a successful composer who has fallen upon hard times due to personal loss and trauma. We meet her as she leaves behind her life in Seattle and purchases an old home in a rural area far from home. She aims to settle into the house and compose a new symphony.
In hopes of reviving her career and mental health, Amber (Kayla Stanton) settles into the home expecting peace and solitude. But as she begins to work on her music, she finds that the house is not what it seems on the surface. Frightening events and shady characters begin to emerge, but Amber is determined to remain in the home and complete her work.
The first half of Amber’s Descent is shaky, but there are positive aspects that pull the viewer in. In a film with musical themes, the score is especially important, and it’s well done in this instance. The music provides a sense of foreboding from the opening scene. As the film progresses, the music serves its purpose in creating tension during the more ominous moments.
The lead actor gives a convincing performance, however, some of the supporting characters were a bit lackluster. I also struggled with the lack of background information on Amber’s story. We eventually learn more of what inspired her move, but I think a bit more information at the beginning would’ve increased my connection to the character.
Her initial relationship with handyman Jim (Michael Mitton) seems unnatural and too advanced early on. I think this was a bit rushed and would’ve made more sense had I seen their connection develop on screen. While the acting and character development could use some polishing, Amber’s Descent makes up for its downfalls through several stronger features, including the visuals. From the landscape to Amber’s visions and dreams, these scenes are pleasing to the eye. The costume design is also alluring and combined with the aforementioned aspects, adds a gothic vibe to the story.
The pacing and tension pick up during the second half, and the last twenty minutes are especially engaging. What begins as a seemingly haunted house story contains many layers. As the story progressed, my interest grew, and I was curious to know the resolution. The storyline was interesting and made me think as a viewer. By the end, I still had questions, but the important clues were there. Some films can leave the viewer frustrated and confused, but this was not the case here. Nothing felt overly ambiguous, and I was satisfied with where the story went over time.
Overall, Amber’s Descent is a compelling story. It was suspenseful and the intrigue grew as the film progressed, despite some lack of cohesion in the storytelling. While stronger character and relationship development would’ve garnered a higher rating, I’d still recommend this title for fans of psychological horror.