Presence 2022 Film Review Horror Movie

Movie Bunker Score:

The Flawed Narrative of “Presence”

“Presence,” directed by Christian Schultz and Thomas Johnston, offers stunning visuals but falls short in terms of its derivative and uninteresting narrative. Making a successful horror film is no easy task, and while the genre is flooded with releases year after year, creating a standout example is a formidable challenge. “Presence” is another addition to the horror genre, showcasing unique visual imagery, but it fails to compensate for its dull storyline and flat characters.

A Technical Marvel with Compelling Lighting

From a technical standpoint, “Presence” shines with the confident direction of Schultz and Johnston, supported by captivating use of lighting. The dream sequences, experienced by the protagonist Jennifer (played by Jenn Lyng Adams), exude a haunting atmosphere that the movie attempts to leverage. With a runtime of 80 minutes, the film maintains a strong sense of pacing, utilizing every moment to further complicate the narrative.

Shallow Characterization Hampers Emotional Depth

Jennifer, the troubled protagonist of “Presence,” already carries emotional baggage before the events of the film unfold. Her troubled relationship with Samantha (Alexandria DeBerry) and her struggles with an ex-boyfriend add depth to her character, intending to serve as the emotional core of the film. However, the development of this core remains insufficient due to the overall shallowness of the characters in “Presence.”

The characters of Jennifer, Samantha, and David (Dave Davis) lack depth, following predictable narrative arcs and behaving more like familiar plot devices rather than fully realized individuals. David, a rich and self-centered billionaire, falls victim to clichés without exploring the impact of his mindset on his actions. Rather than showing the audience the consequences of his character, “Presence” merely tells us who he is, resulting in a less effective approach.

An Identity Crisis: Explicit vs. Artful Storytelling

“Presence” attempts to be an interpretive tale that raises questions rather than offering straightforward answers. However, the film struggles to find a balance between explicit and artful storytelling. The mix of overtly guiding the viewer’s feelings and thoughts about the events and characters while also aiming for subtlety leaves the film feeling disjointed as it reaches its conclusion.

The Potential in Christian Schultz and Thomas Johnston’s Debut

Despite its flaws, “Presence” showcases the incredible visual talent of debut directors Christian Schultz and Thomas Johnston, hinting at a bright future for both filmmakers. Unfortunately, the film’s convoluted plotline and lackluster character development hinder its execution, making it a disappointing viewing experience despite its concise runtime. While “Presence” may offer a premise that feels familiar, other films have explored it in more engaging ways. Nevertheless, this debut demonstrates potential that, with further refinement, could pave the way for an intriguing career path for Schultz and Johnston.


Christian Schultz and Thomas Johnston’s “Presence” captivates with its visually striking moments but fails to deliver a compelling narrative. The film’s technical achievements and atmospheric dream sequences create an engaging viewing experience. However, the shallow characterization and conflicting storytelling approach undermine its overall impact. “Presence” falls short of its potential, offering a premise that has been explored more successfully in other films. Nevertheless, it serves as a stepping stone for the promising careers of the directors, Schultz and Johnston.

Frequently Asked Questions About “Presence”

1. When will “Presence” be available for North American audiences?

“Presence” is set to release on North American VOD platforms on November 17, 2022.

2. What sets “Presence” apart visually from other horror films?

“Presence” stands out for its stunning visuals, showcasing the artistic talent of directors Christian Schultz and Thomas Johnston, particularly for their debut film.

3. Does “Presence” offer a fresh take on the horror genre?

While “Presence” introduces unique visual imagery, it falls into familiar narrative tropes, failing to bring a fresh perspective to the horror genre.

4. What are the main criticisms of “Presence”?

Critics have predominantly criticized “Presence” for its lack of character depth, derivative storyline, and the conflicting blend of explicit and artful storytelling.

5. Does “Presence” show potential for the future careers of the directors?

Despite its shortcomings, “Presence” hints at the potential of directors Christian Schultz and Thomas Johnston, suggesting a promising career trajectory if their strengths are further refined in future projects.