Review: Stunning ‘Krisha’ heralds arrival of new talent

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Remember the name Trey Edward Shults.

He is the writer, director and editor of “Krisha,” a paralyzingly haunting debut feature that announces him as a major new talent to watch. “Krisha” — pronounced “KREE-sha” — is a knock-out family drama with the intimacy of an ice cold slap to the face and tension so thick it could make you choke.

In a ferocious lead performance, Krisha Fairchild is Krisha, an ex-hippie in her 60s returning to her family for Thanksgiving dinner after being out of the picture for years. We first meet her as she pulls up on the street, her dress partially caught in her car door, as she gets out and walks up to the wrong house. Things don’t get much better from there.

Krisha works to settle into a normal routine with her family, including her sister Robyn (Robyn Fairchild) and her son Trey (Shults), but she is slowly consumed by the demons she’s grappled with for years. Shults uses strange camera angles and Brian McOmber’s jarring, highly experimental score to turn an ordinary scene — a family at the holidays — into something out of a horror movie.

Shults even crops the frame to put viewers inside the head of Krisha as her world begins to collapse around her. Fairchild’s performance, meanwhile, is brave, brazen, no-holds-barred material, and neither she nor Shults are afraid to parse deep into the discord that rips families to pieces.

“Krisha” was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and Shults cast his family members in most of the roles (Fairchild is Shults’ aunt). Now his small, personal story has turned into something far greater. “Krisha” is a stone cold stunner.


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Rated R for language, substance abuse and some sexual content

Running time: 83 minutes