A highly unusual and singular film, The World is Full of Secrets is a bit of an endurance test for anyone expecting a traditional film simply because it’s not interested in how most movies are made or in your expectations of what it will deliver. It follows its own path, and almost feels like a student film in the way it’s put together.
Five teenage girls tell striking stories over the course of an afternoon and evening, trying to scare each other, but as the night wears on, the stories become more intense, and by the end of the night all of the girls’ lives will change forever.
Five unsupervised teenage girls (played by Elena Burger, Dennise Gregory, Ayla Guttman, Alexa Shae Niziak, and Violet Piper) are hanging out at one of their homes one afternoon, and they decide to each tell a scary story of some kind to the others on a dare to see who can tell the scariest tale of all. The stories are told in their entirety, some lasting as long as 20 or more minutes, straight to the camera by the character, and the camera never breaks away, and all of the stories have something in common: They involve violence toward young women, some going so far as to describe in graphic detail how these women are raped, degraded, and / or murdered in excruciating fashion. In between stories, the girls order pizza or dare each other to do strange things like taunting fate to show them their futures, or conjuring Lucifer in weird rituals. By the end of the night, the girls meet a fate that is left to the viewers’ imaginations, but we’re told through voiceover by one of the girls who has grown up to be an old woman that something unspeakable happened to them all that night.
A highly unusual and singular film, The World is Full of Secrets is a bit of an endurance test for anyone expecting a traditional film simply because it’s not interested in how most movies are made or in your expectations of what it will deliver. It follows its own path, and almost feels like a student film in the way it’s put together. It is comprised of very long takes where the young actresses recite extremely lengthy monologues (complete with mistakes that weren’t intended), and while that’s brave of writer / director Graham Swon, it’s also tiresome, especially because the dialogue sounds like it’s been written down and being read from memory like a play. The words never flow out of the characters’ mouths, and the movie suffers a great deal because of the stilted delivery. However, the movie does weave a bit of a spell on you if you’re patient and pay attention to the details. There are clues as to how things will go for these girls, and at times it feels very real and unsettling. Are the girls abducted at the end? Tortured? Raped? Murdered? Who knows? Another strange and inexplicable aspect about the movie is that it was set in 1996 for some reason. Why 1996? Why not 1979? Or 1987? What’s with the year? The fact that the movie is narrated by an old woman makes it seem like the survivor of these events is looking back a long ways away to remember that fateful day, but 1996 seems too recent. That’s one of the kooky decisions that filmmaker Swon makes that doesn’t jive with me. The movie has a handful of excellent moments, but on the whole, it’s an odd duck.
The World is Full of Secrets was recently released to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber, and while the cover artwork tells you nothing about the movie, it includes an audio commentary by Swon, plus a deleted scene and the trailer, as well as an insert booklet with an essay about the film.