Sadly October is coming to an end very shortly. With a few days left in the month, my goal of watching at least one horror film per day continues. Although, I’m not necessarily sure I can categorize this one as a horror movie. Read on as I discuss Graham Swon’s The World is Full of Secrets.
An elderly woman recalls one night as a young girl when her and her friends got together without any parental supervision. The five teens tell scary stories, getting more morbid as they continue on.
The World is Full of Secrets is a film that I can’t really put my finger on. It isn’t confusing in any way, but it is certainly much different from what I was expecting.
The 2018 film, written and directed by Graham Swon, greets us with the voice of a narrator. As she speaks, she begins to recount one summer night with her and her friends, gathered in a house without any parents around. They get the bright idea, to pass time, to tell each other scary stories. This is something I’m sure most of us can relate to. I personally remember nights like this fondly.
I would describe The World is Full of Secrets as a drama. It plays out like one of these made-for-TV Lifetime movies, the young girls piercing each other’s ears, ordering pizza, etc. The stories they begin to tell each other start off rather mundane. Boring enough, in fact, that the narrator can’t even recall what the first one was about. We are only shown the girl’s face, words muted, voiced-over by the narrator herself.
The night continues and the girls take turns, each getting a chance to spook their friends. Emily (Alexa Shae Niziak, “The Sinner”) tells a story that is rather violent, depicting a young girl who is so faithful to her religion that she would rather die than agree to marry a man. The death, of course, being explicitly explained by young Emily along the way.
It isn’t until a final friend, Rebecca (Elena Burger), shows up that things get more terrifying. At least that is the intention of Swon’s script, I suppose. Suzie (Ayla Guttman), another of the girls, tells her story. She is out to impress Rebecca, the oldest of the group, who is not fazed by anything it seems.
Suzie’s story, like Emily’s, is pretty violent. I won’t spoil it here, but it is [another] tale of torture and murder. The story itself is very alarming and if I were being told this at the almost tender age of 14 or so, I’d probably be pretty shaken up. The problem is the delivery.
On paper, The World is Full of Secrets is essentially a movie about ghost stories. Every other film I’ve seen with a similar premise would be showing us the events of the story as if they are being told to us. We would be able to witness these events ourselves. That is not what is done throughout this film’s 98 minutes, however.
Instead, we are forced to simply look intimately into the childrens’ faces as they tell their stories. The camera up close and framed to only show one girl at a time, it is as if you were in the room with them. I like this technique and appreciate being thrust into the room so forcefully, but it does not make for a very entertaining movie.
As the minutes wind down, my anticipation of the promised ‘violent reality’ that was to come was still pretty high. That thirst for the true horror moment was never quenched, sadly. The World is Full of Secrets ends with the allusion of a real life crime, real violence brought upon the girls. Nothing is shown; we just have to take the narrator’s word for it.
Not really a fan of everything that came before it, I was hoping for this grand haunting finish. To say I was personally disappointed would be an understatement. Still, this film will have its audiences. People will enjoy it for what it is, as it is cleverly executed. Hell, it is even filmed in 1.20:1 aspect ratio (no modern-day widescreen format here), making it even easier to feel like you are back in 1996 right along with the girls.
The World is Full of Secrets at Home
The World is Full of Secrets is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital from Kino Lorber. The home release features a 2.0 mono audio track and optional English SDH subtitles.
The bonus content included with this release are a booklet essay by film critic Boris Nelepo, an audio commentary track with director Graham Swon, a deleted scene, and trailer for the film.
The World is Full of Secrets is a very well-made film. The production quality is top-notch and the acting from all parties is very good, each girl with their own unique qualities and facial expressions as they tell their tales. Unfortunately, that was not enough for me to actually enjoy the film.
Still, I do urge you to watch this one for yourself and see if your opinion differs from mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I give this one 2 skulls in a mirror out of 5.