Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Id (2016) - A Review

The most important man in a woman's life is her father...

I would imagine that there are few things in life harder than watching your parents fall ill.  To watch their minds and bodies slowly begin to betray them, and morph them into something else, must be one of life's greatest tragedies, however, being granted sole guardianship for an abusive and cruel man surely tops the list of ways that life can shit on you.  Directed by Thommy Hutson and written by Sean H. Stewart, The Id is a dark and intelligently written film that tells the story of Meredith Lane, a lonely woman who has been placed in that very scenario.  She has nothing but herself, dirty linens and a depressing house filled with the demands and profanities from a man who could care less that she has essentially given up her entire life to care for him.  Eesh.

This film is not your typical horror film.  I hesitate at even calling it that.  It's a thriller that relies on more than gore and shock (there's little to none of that either) in lieu of toying with some of the most innate emotional ties and responsibilities that one can feel.  Those of family.  Blood is, after all, thicker than water.  Meredith, played by Amanda Wyss, is an otherwise obedient and kind woman.  As the film opens, we see her day to day life in which she cooks, cleans and cares for her father, a boarish man who insults her, makes lewd comments about her body and barks various commands at her in attempts to keep her under his thumb.  It is a very stark look at what is, very likely, the lives of many people around the world.  Her father is ill, so ill in fact that he cannot stand on his own.  She cannot simply walk away or cast him out onto the streets, after all, he is her father.  He uses this to his advantage, as it is his greatest strength considering he is wheelchair bound.  Guilt is a pretty powerful manipulative tool, more so than muscles and grit. 

This is Meredith's life.  Day in and day out.  She does not leave the house, groceries and medications are delivered, she simply caters to the will of her father.  When an unexpected phone call from a ghost of Meredith's past shatters her father's trance over her, things take a very unexpected turn in this film, and we then see one of the most emotional power sturggles I've seen on film in recent years, and I must say, it was a treat to watch.  What starts as a very stark film, quickly takes on a very quirky tone, in all the right ways.  As the events unfold, it's akin to watching a car wreck that you simply can't tear your eyes away from.  Wyss's performance is amazing, giving this film the genuineness that it so needs to avoid becoming campy, while Patrick Peduto's take on the father almost causes you, at moments, to sympathize with his character's plights (just as Meredith does).  This is very much a film that relied on these two performances and both carried them very well.  I ultimately walked away from this film having felt like we have been robbed of 20+ years of killer lead performances from Amanda Wyss as she more than carries this film to the finish line, she fucking runs it there.

While the soundtrack screamed of "Lifetime" movies, The Id delivered on every front.  A solid screenplay that keeps you guessing (and I really mean that) was backed by solid performances resulting in a film that deserved it's Best Thriller win as the 2016 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival.  You can catch it on VOD, or over at Amazon, today.

Keep it spooky,
Ryan Wilkins

Friday, October 14, 2016

Padorica (2016) - A Review

The Future Reset

Set in a post-apocalyptic world following an event known as "The Great Reset", Pandorica tells the story of three young tribe members that are led into the woods to endure the "trial": an overnight event that will decide the new leader of the Varosha Tribe. The Varosha are a group of survivors of The Great Reset, some unknown element that wiped out civilization sparing only the most isolated of communities.  We are introduced to Eiren, Ares and Thade, our three hopefuls and their current leader, Nus.  None of them, not even Nus, knows what their trial will be.  All that is known is that only one them will return from the forest to hail as the new leader of the tribe. When a mysterious woman stumbles onto their campsite carrying a mysterious box, their trial is revealed to them.  They soon discover that a trio of deadly assassins are in search of this box, and it's up to them to destroy it before it falls into the wrong hands. 

Pandorica, directed by newcomer Tom Paton, is an interesting film.  Not quite horror, not quite sci-fi, it's an impressive freshman effort from Paton who has nothing else on his IMDB, other than a new feature that is currently filming entitled Redwood.  Boasting beautiful cinematography and a solid original score, the film is set up nicely as we are introduced to our small ensemble cast. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the shots that introduce us to this post-apocalyptic world and commented on what a beautiful film this would be to watch on the big screen.  Paton absolutely capitalized on his small budget, and the world that he created with it should be commended. 

While the writing was a little spotty at times (next to nothing is explained about The Great Reset, in fact it's never even mentioned by the characters) the film is well paced.  There are moments when I wish we received some more background information about aspects of this new world, but perhaps most of that was left on the cutting room floor.  I can't fault Paton too much for that one.  Moments of seeing these characters discover artifacts from the "old world", as they like to call it, were fun and added a nice element to the film that is not often seen in horror films released now a days.  And on that note, I have to applaud Paton's effort to create his own world in this film, it felt like Alien meets Battle Royale

Unfortunately, I feel that the film ultimately suffered greatly from poor on-screen talent.  In all honesty, I did not feel that there was a solid performance out of anyone in the ensemble. Jade Hobday, who plays our lead heroine Eiren, delivered a mild and forced performance giving me the feeling that she was cast based on aesthetic purposes, and Marc Zammit (Ares) was extremely one dimensional in his attempts to bring a villainous tone to his character.  As much as I hate to say it, the performances gave it the feel of a high budget home movie, or high school project.  While they each had their believable moments, more often than not I was left wondering if some of the budget that went into equipment and costume design should have been allotted to their casting department.  I'm used to seeing a spotty performance from one or two cast members, but I ended up feeling like it was taking me out of the film, which is unfortunate because I was so set-up to enjoy this experience. 
Pandorica  was a film that I wanted to enjoy, it captivated me from the get-go, however I was lost along the way and it was unable to recapture my attention as the film went on.  I do feel that Tom Paton is a promising new director, and I will be interested to see his next feature, I just don't think that I'll be recommending this one to friends and family any time soon.

Keep it spooky,
Ryan Wilkins 

Pandorica is now available in select theaters, On Demand, and DVD.