Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hair of the Dog

Director - Sheri Davis
Writer - Jason Marsiglia

Thriller - Short  3/5

"A man with demons is a loaded gun away from heartache...Sheri Davis' HAIR OF THE DOG is a short film packed with power both raw and brutally honest in the depiction  of dealing with an alcoholic."
Charred Remains Reviews

A man with demons is a loaded gun away from heartache...Hair of the Dog is a look into alcoholism and the consequences of a man who is in denial. The directorial debut for indie actress Sheri Davis is a nerve wrangling film that satisfied this reviewer with its story and the direction of main character John. 

John an average man suffering from alcoholism is in big denial of his problem. For him, the disease cost him his job and family and still he continued to drink himself into a stupor. I liked the way the film unraveled allowing viewer to see all angles of John's life and the consequences of the disease that he has allowed to ravage himself and his family. A peak at his picture perfect life as it crumbled around him. On a mantel the viewer sees pictures of his wife and kids and their smiles all melt away to a darkness that has consumed their happy essence and turned it to ruin. The end is both shocking and satisfying for family drama/thriller and even horror fans. The special effects that went into the ruin of John were excellent were both brutal and savage. 

I liked the "look" of the film. It flowed well even with the flashes from past to present, it was seamless. Set designs were flawless. A great eye went into making every detail stand out and looks like it belonged. I dislike films where the sets are thrown together and things that could have been added were left out. Not so in HOTD, kudos to the set designer. 

I had a few minor issues with the film that I will address. Sound continuity being the first thing I noticed. The film starts with music that blared. I had the settings on my computer set at medium and the music sounded two times higher and then it evened out for few moments just in time to hear the main character vomit and grunt. I can hear the past as he thinks back to what led to his current predicament, the tone of his boss and the crying of his wife...were perfect for setting of volume. As the film progresses the volume is fine and then in the kitchen after John pushes Crystal the volume is loud for her and daughter who yells at John, but then John's voice is so low, I have to turn the volume all the way up ( I could not hear John) and down throughout the altercation with John and Crystal as she and the kids leave. I'm not one that likes to adjust volume while watching a film, so for me the volume switching was a downer. 

Another was continuity dealing with scene shot outside during sunset. John is sitting on lawn drinking his Lone Star beer and its light outside moments later Crystal and the kids are making their way to the SUV to leave and it’s darker. I understand filming when you can, but when you go from light to dark in a matter of seconds as opposed to hours between's a little disconcerting. 

With independent lower budget films there are key factors that ruin a movie for me...acting, story direction, poor sound and shaking cameras. It's hard to hire above mediocre actors when the film's budget is poured mainly into equipment, location and FX. Acting usually takes a back seat...not so in this film. I was impressed with Glenn Turney's raw performance of John. His Jekyll and Hyde turnaround was scary and spot on with his story's character. He was believable as a drunk. 

Todd Terry played John's frazzled boss who had the displeasure of firing his employee. He made it perfectly clear that John was a hazard for his company and after a recent incident he could no longer turn the other way. Todd set the stage for more bad news to follow in the film. After viewing the film for a third time, I finally was able to place his face to a favorite night time show that has sadly been cancelled...DALLAS. I couldn't help but take a peek at his impressive IMDB page and sure enough in 2014 he played Peter Bedford on the show. I also recognize him from QUEEN OF THE SOUTH. Check him out

Kenzie Pallone had the difficult position of playing John's daughter Eve. She was forced into a situation to defend her mother and she showed this reviewer her dominance when she attacked her father for his mistreatment of her mother. Eve reacted quickly and her devastation was etched on her young face by the turn of events in her family life. There was one moment when her facial expression seemed to lag a bit too long in the kitchen, but was quickly recovered and smoothed over by her exit from the kitchen. I would like to see more from her as she matures in her craft. 

John's youngest child was adorable baby played by Maverick Cash. She cried on cue during a heated moment in the kitchen. Good set of lungs on that baby. 

Sheri Davis first caught my eye when she acted in another short film called SNAKE WITH A HUMAN TAIL from director Spencer Gray. Sheri played a transgender prostitute in a unique situation. You can read my review for more details. Shortly after this film, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting this remarkable woman at Texas Frightmare Weekend. She is a wonderful person and so good-natured, it is hard not to like her. 

In her directorial debut, I found not only a good story with a good cast but Sheri herself portraying an abused and fed-up Crystal wife to John. Sheri has a good eye when it comes to detail. I have seen her in other short-films that showcased her acting talent and after talking more with her, I know there is more to her than just a pretty face...Sheri Davis is a force that is a welcome site in a male driven profession. I have enjoyed seeing her first film and hope to see many more in the future from her. 

Trivia: Who else from Hair of the Dog starred opposite Sheri Davis in Snake with a Human Tail?  A. Glenn Turney, B. Todd Terry, C. Kenzie  Pallone. 

Disclaimer: I was asked for an honest review and I have given my opinions and thoughts on this film. It is my recommendation that reviewers of thrillers/family dramas should see this film and by the same way give their honest thoughts on Hair of the Dog as I have. Thank you to Sheri Davis for allowing me to review your film.  My score is 3 Out of 5.

Director has stated the sound issues have been edited for the final version circulating the film festivals. 

Snake with a Human Tail

"I want you to suffer, then I want you to die!"

Recently, I had the pleasure of receiving message from director Spencer Gray with request to review his new short film, Snake with a Human Tail and I accepted. Due to my crazy work schedule, it took some time. I was able to view it today and can honestly say, it was worth the wait. Snake with a Human Tail has got to be the creepiest short film I have seen this year. 

The mind of this writer/director is warped but his story touches on a certain taboo that touches the lives of many who were molested by men (and women) of the cloth. I thought the story he created was good and to the point. The length of the film is only thirty minutes, but it is a well rounded thirty minutes that doesn't drag but moves along at nice saunter. 

Father Fulci (Marv Blauvelt) has a demon that craves the forbidden fruit of children. During a session with Dr. Bloom (Billy Blair), the good doctor learns that Father Fulci isn't confined to alter boys, but that he also has a desire for little girls too. In one particular moment in which a camera is recording the session, Father Fulci speaks directly into the camera to "Sally". He is actually demonstrating to Dr. Bloom how he approaches little girls. This gave me goose bumps. The tone of his speech is over the top Mr. Rogers creepy. I felt myself cringe at the tenacity of this character to fulfill the ache to obliterate the innocence of children. 

Father Fulci talks of past conquests and one child has left a lasting impression on the priest. "Henry O'Brien" is talked about with reverence and adoration that quickly changes when the priest spoke of cutting him and inflicting pain on Henry. A gleeful expression crosses the priest's face and turned my stomach at the thought of him inflicting pain upon a young boy (or any child). The session ends with the unholy Father shaking hands and offering up a "God Bless" to his doctor. 

"A woman always has her revenge ready." 

Little Henry is all grown up and is now a transgender whore hell bent on revenge. Henry now called "Karma Blake" has been planning for a very long time to get back at the sadistic priest who stole his innocence and rendered him a broken person who can no longer feel pain. Karma is ready to inflict her own sense of justice on the good Father. 

Karma/Henry (Sheri Davis) has been "dating" Father Fulci and the Father believes he is falling love with her. She gives pleasure while he continues to inflict pain on her and humiliate as he degrades himself and her. She takes it until she can't anymore and then she turns the tables on the unholy bastard that ends in a bang.

"Snake with a Human Tail is creepy and disturbing. It will make your skin crawl."
Char/Charred Remains

This short film is remarkably good for a low budget production. What it has going for it is a good revenge story involving a child molesting priest, good director, moderately good casting and one hell of a cinematographer (Anthony Gutierrez).

I was thrilled to death to learn that the cinematographer involved with this short film was Anthony Gutierrez (Circus of the Dead, Devil's Deal, Klagger). Anthony has an excellent eye and his work is really beautiful. 

You know, when the average indie horror fan sees a low budget film, it has a certain "look" to it? It just screams low budget. It could be in the lighting, appearance, locations whatever, but it just has that "look". In Snake with a Human Tail, you don't have that "look" and I believe that is due largely in part of Anthony's camera work. The close up shots was not blurred, the lighting is not too harsh/bright and on the night scenes the light is not overly
dark. Everything about the look is damned near perfect. One wouldn't know this was a low budget film based on the "look" of it. And that may not be important to the average viewer, but for me, it is and I thought it was worth noting. The scenes at the Fort Worth Texas Water Gardens were beautiful, crisp and it looked so tranquil.  Congratulations Anthony Gutierrez job well done!

Another perk to this short film was the special effects used by Gerald Crum, Jason Mcroberts, Spencer Gray, and Jeremy Mitchell. No CGI! For fans who like the practical hands on effect, you would love the death scene of Dr. Bloom. I did. His killer slashed him with a shaving razor across the face and then bashed his head against the kitchen counter as he laid face down on the kitchen floor in his death throes, blood can be seen puddling from his slashed throat and from his head wound. It was wicked. 

Another cool scene involved the transformation from crazed priest to a horned devil as Father Fulci stood before a mirror. He was washing his hands and leans down and comes up with horns protruding out of his head and blood on his face. It was like, hey look at me, I have a devil inside and it's coming out. 

There is a gunshot/shower scene where a character pulls the trigger under the chin, great blood splatter from behind. All in all the kill shots were great and bloody!

You can't have a good film without a soundtrack. And this one was no exception. I loved the songs used in this film. It would be a shame not to mention them in the review. Each song fit this dark, seedy film's vibe very well. 

Written/performed by Junk, Rico, 
Benjamin Bachman, Billy Blair

Written by Wyzae 
Performed by ZombG

"Zombie Hoodoo", "Trio for Piano, Cello and Clarinet", "Steel Rods", "Hush", "Industrial Music Box", "Phantasm", "Day of Chaos", "Tenebrous Brothers Carnival - Act 3" performed by Kevin MacLeod

Sheri Davis as Karma/Henry O'Brien 

I think, I was most impressed with Sheri Davis who played the transgender prostitute Karma/Henry O'Brien. I have seen other reviews that focus on the priest and those are well and good, but for me the character that spoke to me was Karma. 

Karma is the result of a childhood lost to a child molester. Her/His molester was someone all children should not be afraid of and are encouraged at a young age to trust and love their priests. Henry O'Brien was such a child who trusted the wrong priest and he was robbed of his innocence and had his soul sucked out by a predator of the cloth. 

Karma confided into her girlfriend Kennedy (Melina Lyons) about the man she was seeing and how the little altar boy he molested was dead because of him and "Karma Blake rose from his ashes". That one line screams revenge and in her sweet time she got it. The extent of what Henry transformed into set the stage for revenge. It may have taken him many years, but his perseverance paid off with one look from Fulci. In the climactic moment that Karma informs Fulci of her true identity was classic Karma. 

Sheri was amazing as Karma/Henry. I liked her look, her accent and the one awesome feature was her eyes. The looks in this actress's eyes during her scenes with Fulci were spot on. She had a look of hatred, revenge, pain, disgust all rolled into one look and it struck a chord in me. Pure evil has a look, but nothing like the look Sheri Davis put into her character Karma's eyes. Bravo! Without a shadow of doubt Sheri's character was my favorite of the short.

Billy Blair was Dr. Bloom and he was cool and reserved. In his sessions with Father Fulci, he listened as the priest spoke of his victims and you could see a hint of disgust and his shock to learn that Father Fulci was not a one sex predator that he liked little girls too. Later in his darkened kitchen he comes a grouping of lit candles and a killer priest. Blair's death scene was memorable down to the last gasp. 

Sheril Rodgers played a Marilyn Monroe lookalike named "Marilyn". My favorite scene with her is at the end. She got the last word, "Karma" with a smile. Awesome!

Melina Lyons played prostitute "Kennedy" which is a tongue in cheek giggle what with having a "Marilyn Monroe" lookalike in the same film. Spencer Gray has a sense of humor to go along with his warped horror drenched mind. Nice touch Spencer.

Melina's character was the girlfriend to Karma and had definite hate for Father Fulci. The girls had a nice chat at diner/restaurant where Kennedy thought Karma should let their friends take the priest out. Melina was spunky and had a soft spot for Karma. I loved her shoes!

Marv Blauvelt as "Father Fulci" was just creepy, smug and depraved. There were two scenes that sold me on his creep factor and those were the session with Dr. Bloom with him speaking directly into the camera as if he was approaching a little girl. The second one was his talking to a decapitated head that he talked to with reverence as a worm protruded from it. 

The short film has already started its journey on the film festival/convention circuit. It premiered at Horrorhound Indianapolis September, 2014 and will be premiering at the San Diego Fantastic Horror Film Festival in November. I enjoyed this film and would recommend anyone to see it. 

Thank you, Spencer for sending me your short film. I enjoyed getting creeped out by your film. 4 Out of 5.

To stay up to date with Snake with a Human Tail, go to its Facebook page.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Awaken the Shadowman

Director -  J.S. Wilson
Stars: James Zimbardi, Skylar Caleb, Jean Smart



Charred Remains Reviews

"Are you one of them?"

My Redbox find this week Awaken the Shadowman directed by J.S. Wilson and starring Jean Smart was snatched up quickly by my horror loving hand. I'm a little on the fence with my feelings toward the story as I was expecting more and came away with less, however I enjoyed certain elements of the film.

The story is about a missing Californian mother and the reuniting of estranged brothers Jay (Skylar Caleb) and Adam Morris (James Zimbardi). The brothers come together in hopes of finding their mother Evette (Jean Smart). What Adam finds is more questions than answers and is led on a creepy trail of odd behavior and brainwashed oddities. 

Adam brings his wife Beth (Emily Somers) and young daughter Emma to his brother Jay and sister-in-law Christy's (Andrea Hunt) home and are greeted by several members of their mother's bereavement group. One of the members a woman named Glenda (Casey Kramer) claims to be Evette's best friend. She offers her help to the boys. 

Another member leaves his mark upon introduction to Adam, young Lawrence, He appears innocent but his demeanor is off to Adam. Others come forward for introductions and their interest seems more attuned to Adam's young daughter Emma. 

With each moment of this film the direction is one of crumbs for Adam and the viewer. Beth's first night in Jay's house shows a strange sleep-walking segment that leads to a glimpse of the Shadow Man. However, my first indication that something was off rested solely with Emma and her fussiness. The viewer will notice her crying around certain people and definitely while in the foreign presence of the Shadowman. Children are sensitive to things and she is clearly disturbed by her uncle's home and friends.  I didn't need the sleepwalking mom clue, but it adds to the mystery building surrounding Evette's disappearance and the events of a fire that affected everyone in the Gateway Bereavement Group. 

The longer I watched this film more subtle and not so subtle clues are dropped as to the true nature of what's going on. Instead of being a show-less-tells of story, the viewer gets more telling and filling in the blanks with a fail of showing. I like a good mystery, but this one was too easy to figure out and before the middle of the film; I had it nailed down to what was going on and at the big gathering at the end...I was correct and little disappointed.

When you hear characters drop key word like "sacrifice" and you have a group of seemingly brainwashed followers it's not hard to put two and two together and get a cult. Their leader has a strong resemblance to another young red haired cult character "Malachi" from "Children of the Corn" which is one of my favorite Stephen King films.  In this film and much like "Children of the Corn" this young leader Lawrence (Raam Weinfield) oozes with creepy charm and quickly gets under the viewer's skin. My problem with Lawrence there wasn't enough of him in the scenes, but when he was in them...made my skin crawl. He was one creepy dude.

Another character emerged to warn Adam of the nature of Lawrence and in the woods later she shares her thoughts on the Gateway group and Lawrence that sent Adam racing back to her brother's looking for his wife and most importantly his daughter. What he finds set the ending for the mystery and showed this viewer that Jean Smart plays crazy very well. I would recommend this film, but I'll give you fair warning the acting is less than stellar in certain actors, but in the moments that Jean Smart is visible she gives a convincing show with a loving dose of crazy. 

As for the other actors, JamesZimbardi I recognized from a couple of soap operas and his acting was above par, but the others came across as wooden, hollow and forgettable. 

Fans of cult type movies may enjoy Awaken the Shadowman...I did. The film alludes to what's going to happen and when the "sacrifice" happens there is no blood. It's rare to watch a horror themed film without bloody scenes. There's a scene where the charred remains of someone is sitting on the floor like a memorial, but one does not see the melting of the body. Fans who like gory bloody scenes will most likely not enjoy this film. 

Fans of mediocre might enjoy following the clues. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the film should you take up the case of  Awakening the Shadowman

It's available at Red Box, Amazon and Google Play . 

Check out more info on the Facebook page for the film.

Check out more trailers from Gravitas Ventures on youtube.

Key words: #cult #horror #gravitasventures #sacrifice 

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Director: Ryan Bellgardt
VOD July 11, 2017

3 Out of 5 

"Gremlin...passes the cursed box to a loved one, when you care to send the very best of madness, blood and death. It's a freaking horror Hallmark!
Charred Remains Reviews

Adam and Julie Thatcher along with teenage daughter Anna and young son Charlie moves in with Julie's grandmother after the death of their son Henry. One afternoon just before dinner, Julie's uncle arrives with a package for his mother. It's a box that he tells his mother to pass it on to someone she loves. She asked if it was a game and Jim who is desperate to get rid of the box confirmed it was a game and one that she must get rid of before the timer goes off. 

Inside her house is a tightly wound family grieving the loss of their son and with this "gift" their lives become such a mess that this viewer felt sorry for them early on in the film. Sitting at the head of the table is Adam an architect who is cheating on his wife, Julie a mother trying to keep it all together and Charlie who has issues since the death of his brother. In walks Grandmother with a box. She relays the information that her son gave her and promptly gives the box to Adam. So begins the nightmare for the Thatchers.

Later that evening while all were in bed, (minus teenager Anna who was out with boyfriend) the box opens and out comes the creature that lives inside it. Charlie hears a noise and goes in search of the sound and opens the door to his grandmother's room to see the creature stabbing her. He screams. The police arrive and Adam and Julie are asked many questions. As the detective is about to leave Charlie speaks up saying the creature in the box came out and killed his grandmother. The ramblings of a disturbed child go unheeded. 

Throughout the movie one by one loved ones are picked off and it becomes a deadly game to stay ahead of the creature who is hell bent on killing all the loved ones of the Thatcher family. 

My thoughts...

"Gremlin is like a horror Hallmark gift...which simply says, I'm sorry, I love you to death."

I had misgivings right at the start when you see the creature in opening scene with Uncle Henry. I really do not like to see the "monster" at the beginning of a film. I like to be teased and shown very little and then...BAM bring out the full monster! Gremlin didn't do that and for me it was a mark against the film. Starting the beginning with a negative quickly faded away as I sat back and watched the story. 

A family dealing with grief, adultery and teenager growing pains is more than enough to deal without the added creature that was bestowed upon them innocently by a kind grandmother. As the story unfolded, I watched in horror as victims began to pile up and the true horror was the way Adam Thatcher dealt with things. Scary. Someone is killed in his home on the heels of Julie's grandmother and what does he do? Call the cops? NO, he puts the body in the basement, thus building suspicion in my mind of what truly happened to his deceased son. Hmmm, I wasn't alone in wondering, the police started putting pieces together and later when they arrived chaos was running amok and they were in for the shock of their lives...Charlie's monster was running loose in the front yard. I loved that scene. 

An hour into the story an explanation is given and it's a cool one. At first, I thought it was going to be left to the imagination of the viewer, but it was given by a gypsy friend of one of the detectives. A gypsy...gotta love it. 

My gripes for this film are not much other than the opening scene showing the creature too soon. The other is when Adam tried to destroy the box. He threw it in a lake and came home to the box. Crazy right? Funny. He tried a mallet, a saw and then he lights a match and throws it in garbage can. He goes back into the house moments later and there's the box...without one scar after all the hard work of trying to destroy it. Look, if a mallet or saw can't destroy a metal cursed box, what makes the writer think fire will? 

Gremlin is a Horror Hallmark and one that was fun to watch. Far from the Gremlins from the 80's, there's nothing cute about this creature...he's after one thing blood of your loved ones. I recommend it for a fun watch. It comes out on VOD July 11, 2017. Give it a chance. Fans of puppeteers and creature features, may enjoy this film. I did.

Gremlin Trailer

Friday, June 9, 2017


Short film by Mikel D. Ledesma
Cinematographer Anthony Gutierrez

4 Out of 5

 "SHATTERED" is powerful and heart-breaking. 

The subject matter for this short film is a familiar story heard and seen in the news far too frequently. A young girl goes missing and the tragedy unfolds via the media. Suspects are rounded up and some are arrested, a court date set and the family of the missing/murdered are dragged through the media circus and the end result is tied up in a neat bow and discarded. But what happens, when the suspect is cleared and released? The sensationalizing of the story begins to wane and interest is lost. 

I got news for you, the hurt, confusion; rage of the families of these missing/murdered children doesn't stop when the story wanes. Their pain is forever and all a grieving parent wants to know is "Why?"

In Shattered Mikel D. Ledesma has a grieving mother of a murdered child and she has not stopped hurting and questioning what happened to her little girl. In this story, this mother is pissed. She is so angry that she takes justice into her own vengeful hands and what happens over the course of this twenty minute short film will blow your mind

Some time ago, I was approached by the cinematographer Anthony Gutierrez to take an early look at "Shattered" and I saw potential for a fan favorite on the festival circuits. A few minor things stuck out to my watchful eye, but in a macabre fashion I enjoyed the story. Meaning I enjoyed the make-up of the story and the actions made throughout by the actress Scarlette Martin who portrayed "Rose Sterling" the grieving mother of "Lily Sterling" (Julianna Ochoa) who was taken from outside her home and murdered.

As the viewer, I saw more than the film showed, I FELT Rose's deep hurt over the loss of her beloved and cherished daughter. This film reached out and touched me at my maternal core. In feeling the emotional battle this woman was facing, she brought it home to me. I cried and continued to cry throughout the film and when her hurt and confusion turned to a blind rage, I felt that sense of rawness that she was feeling. She wanted answers and when the police released the man they believed responsible, I could see as well as feel an encompassing rage and thirst for revenge. 

The child who played "Lily Sterling" was Julianna Ochoa. She broke my heart. In the beginning, she is seen riding her scooter and all the sweetness and innocence of this single happy act is taken in an instant and sullied by a sick faceless person. Her sweet face transforms from sweet and carefree to blooded and still. In the final moments of her life, she is seen and in one gut wrenching sound, the viewer hears as well as sees that "Lily" was aware and feeling everything. This scene was so powerful, I had to push the pause button and I sobbed at the loss of her character's life. 

Matthew Roy portrayed "Tom Collins" the man released by police and found not guilty of "Lily's" death. However, he is targeted by the grief stricken "Rose" and the story takes a turn for a sadistic torture of a man believed by "Lily's" mother to be guilty of her daughter's murder. The taking of "Tom Collins" elicited a smirk and grin from this reviewer. During "Rose's" interrogation/torture of Tom, I admit to enjoying her candor and passion. 

The conclusion of this story will blow your mind. I am confident "Shattered" will do very well on the festival circuit especially with women who are mothers and grandmothers. They will connect to "Rose" and "Lily" on a very emotional scale. Men will cringe and I imagine, quite a few will shrink in their seats at one particular tortuous scene. The scene is unforgettable and I was hard pressed not to smile with a hint of an evil grin...forget it...I smiled. 

The ending was a twist of fate that caused more tears to fall for the characters involved. This is the type of film that anyone seeing it should have tissues handy. I would be so bold as to suggest the handing out of tissues at the door for festival goers upon entering the room to see "Shattered". It would be a good marketing tool and by the end of the film, those tissues would be wet with tears.

"Shattered" is a gut-wrenching tearjerker that stays true to its character's anguish and rage. This look is the part of the story that gets noticed in the news once the original story wanes. As I stated above, the conclusion will blow your mind. 

"Shattered" is not my first film where Anthony Gutierrez is the cinematographer, I have been a fan of his work for a few years. The last few films I have seen were from director Spencer Gray's short film, "Snake with a Human Tail" and new director Billy Pon's feature film, "Circus of the Dead". One of my early short films I reviewed was director Casey Crow's "Klagger" and I really enjoyed getting "Klaggered"!

I believe "Klagger" was the first film in which I discovered Anthony's work and I have been a fan ever since.  With each new film he does, I see growth and perfection. He is a true professional with an extremely talented eye. Look for the October 2014 release of Lionsgate "Devil's Deal" in which Anthony was the cinematographer. The film was directed by Justin Mosley and Allen Reed.

After having viewed this short film, writer/director Mikel D. Ledesma now has my attention. I would like to see more of your work in the future. What I have seen in this short film is a clear vision of a long career ahead for you in the film industry. I'm interested...give me some more. 

To all the actors involved with this short film, take a bow. Scarlette Martin, Julianna Ochoa and Matthew Roy as the key characters in this story, each of you had the power to reach out and pull me into dark places and for that you deserve to take an additional bow. These three actors broke my heart on many levels and when the final scene took place, I jumped out of my skin. Thank you for a job well done. Bravo!

Should any festival out there be looking for a taut, dark revenge filled film written by a man whose female character has the magical and pain-filled touch to make his audience cry and cringe, this is the film. I urge you to contact Mikel D. Ledesma and get it in your film festival. "SHATTERED" is powerful and heart-breaking. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

House on Willow Street

Director - Alastair Orr
Stars: Carlyn Burchell, Sharni Vinson, Zino Ventura


3 Out of 5

"An impressive finish to a slow burn. Typical clich├ęs got swept away with gory good FX and a strong finish by actresses Carlyn Burchell and Sharni Vinson. I enjoyed the middle to end."

Four would-be kidnappers plan the taking of a diamond dealer's daughter to ransom. Their careful planning lead to the house on Willow Street and upon entering the dark home, the four adults see various strange symbols that are the first clue to the viewer that all is not well within the house on Willow Street.  Katherine is secreted away and taken to an unknown location and chained to a chair. 

Hazel (Sharni Vinson/You're Next) commented that it looked like they had rescued Katherine from the house, which is the second clue. Katherine begs the kidnappers to "save yourselves" and "release me" they typical rote of any victim; however the kidnappers should have heeded the warning and released her.

The kidnappers videoed their victim and wished to send to her father, unfortunately problems arise. The parents of Katherine could not be reached. They ring all their numbers and it became evident that something was amiss and two of the kidnappers returned to the house. After one scary encounter the two men return with a tape that reveals the horrors surrounding the reputation of the Willow Street house and gives further insight to the woman they have chained. She harbored a secret that will affect each of them. 

Fans of demons and exorcisms may like this film. I was unsure of what I was getting myself into and the first part of the film was slow and I was left caring little for the characters and wishing them all a fast death for the boredom that I felt as I struggled to stay awake. Once the tape was introduced to the kidnappers, ghosts appeared and a demon made his presence felt and seen. I sat up straighter in my chair and took notice and for the second half of the film. 

I did come to care, but not for the kidnappers...for the demon possessed Katherine! She was the true star of this story. Her transformation from scared victim to a powerful entity was breathtaking. The gory effects were very entertaining and the best part of the demon was the barbed snake-like tongue that seemed to have no end, when it exited Katherine's mouth. WICKED! The strongest of characters were Katherine (Carlyn Burchell/12 Monkeys, Lizzie Borden Chronicles) and Hazel (Sharni Vinson). 

Sacrifices were made and Hazel was left to face the demon known as the "Devourer of Tormented Souls". The ending was explosive! I would recommend this film, however it is a one-time watch for me. I wouldn't look for it on DVD or Blu-ray, perhaps Red Box or as an Amazon rental.