Kurt Cobain. Robert Johnson. Amy Winehouse. Jim Morrison. Jimi Hendrix. All these recording superstars have one tragic thing in common: their fame engrossed lives ending horribly, sometimes violently, at the young age of 27 at the height of their careers. Their deaths are a part of an elite group called the 27 Club that incorporates effervescent celebrities from all walks of fame. When another popular rock star ends up mysterious deceased a night after his concert, the same concert that student journalist Jason attended, the eager academic finds himself at the right place, at the right time while researching and documenting the notoriety of the 27 Club. While hallowing out the club’s infamy, Lily, a wild and struggling musician, enters his life on a connective collision course toward his research that evidently surrounds itself around an ancient Latin-based text. The book is binding to those seeking rock star status in exchange for their souls and with a steep decline in her musical career, Lily provokes satanic rituals with exploiting help from the love struck Jason, but the only thing Lily didn’t count on was her unexpected love for him back.
The actual 27 Club lore continues to be an interesting notion. A curiously notorious concept that flew under the radar for this reviewer up until happening upon and diving into the Patrick Fogarty’s written and directed soul-bargaining tale regarding the idea’s parameters as the film’s foundation. Fogarty, the staple music video director for bands such as Black Veil Brides and The Burning of Rome, tests his hand at satanic, soul-swallowing horror, simply titled “The 27 Club,” for Cleopatra Records cinematic sub-division, Cleopatra Entertainment, and is co-written a mythos script alongside “Clownsploitation’s” Joe Flanders and Michael Lynn. Even if nothing more than a freak coincidence, Fogarty processes an innovative take on the 27 Club that has spanned over century and, perhaps, provides a little education and knowledge to those outside the music industry.
Many iconic rock stars rise from the grave to spit philosophical truths and knowledge, constructed as miniature prologues of a chaptered story, intertwined with a relatively unknown cast beginning with headlining leading lady Maddisyn Carter as the toiled Lilly seeking refuge in any drug or sexual partner her beautiful disaster can ensnare in a world of deaf tone destruction. Her character is intended to be refracted by the introduction of the 27 Club research journalist, Jason (“Mutants'” Derrick Denicola), who just happens to be around when another musician kicks the proverbial bucket, but Carter maunders through the relationship with Jason and unable to materialize compassion, losing any slither of internal conflict Lilly may possess. Todd Rundgren, Cleopatra recording artist and a member of the progressive rock band, Utopia, headlines polar opposite of Carter on the cover of the home media release only and not as a chief player in this possession plot. The role downsizes his long legacy in the music biz and though a small role and acting isn’t Rundgren’s first love, the rocker tops as being one of the film’s better moments as a record store wise-guy patron doing the right thing and a creepy video-chatty music professor. “The 27 Club” tortures the cast of remaining souls with Adam Celantano, Kali Cook (“Victor Crowley”), Zack Kozlow (“Devil’s Domain”), Mr. Chromeskull himself Nick Principe (“Laid to Rest” and “Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2”), Jason Lasater (“Death Tunnel”), Zach Paul Brown, Emily Dalquist, Eugene Henderson, wrestling superstar John Hinnigan, Gogo Lomo-David, Tasha Tacosa (“Halloween Pussy Trap Kill Kill”), and, my personal favorite, Killjoy’s Victoria de Mare!
Novel backstory might be one thing, but a comprehensively sound one is another and while “The 21 Club” begins like a John Carpenter cask of embolism-depth imagination and beguiling, if not apocalyptic hinting, descent into oblivion, Fogarty’s film collapses when Lilly and Jason seek out a couple of drug dealers to understand the book’s portentous contents. Conveniency and rushed theatrics push a scene-to-scene overhaul that forgets to breathe and come up for air, losing that dramatic, dire consequence associated with a thriller. No consequences steep the pot to forge a luxury of sympathy or any type of relation toward the characters. Jason and Lilly’s dynamic was hot and cold at best and why Lilly kept Jason around after learning of his possession of the book is a complete mystery. The exposition isn’t conveyed properly in this instance and their coupling wipes on a thin wave toward the finale. There’s also the common motif of a sex tape – Jason records his and Lilly’s sexual encounter after a night of clubbing and Lilly’s record producer explicitly states if there’s a sex tape out there that might risk damaging her career – and then that information goes dark, nothing but crickets to line an explanation to why her sex tape would be important to the story. If a stipulation of her fame agreement with the reaper was to not lie or become involved scandalously entangled, the sex tape would be the perfect real world-relating catalyst that fully encompasses the fame-to-fallen storyline.
Cleopatra Entertainment and MVDVisual release a sweet, multi-format package perfect for home entertainment of Patrick Fogarty’s “The 27 Club.” The all region DVD/Blu-ray combo set also includes the compact disc soundtrack to the movie that features music from Todd Rundgren featuring NIN’s Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, plus Die Klute, Bestial Mouths, The Anix, Jurgen Engler and more. The full HD, 1080p Blu-ray, which was viewed, is presented in a 1.78:1, widescreen, aspect ratio. The 97 minute digitally shot film has a wonderful color palate that often shutters from natural tones to one or two-toned primary color filters with also a desaturated approach to the 27 Club’s most recognizable members conducting a foggy room soliloquy. Banding issues have noticeable effects in various stages of darker scenes, especially surrounding a humanoid figure. The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound has insignificant bite through the multi channel conduit that denotes continuous issues with Cleopatra Entertainment’s home video releases. With a recording penchant for talent in the music industry, the expectation is high in delivering bombastic results flowing from one through five and presenting a singular comprehensive result, but the range and depth lack beside the powerhouse release and instead, find more solace in the third format of a traditional CD soundtrack content with great musical contents. Bonus features include two interviews with the film’s stars, Maddisyn Carter and Darrick Denicola, slideshow, trailers, and of course, a CD soundtrack all underneath a slipcovered jewel casing. “The 27 Club” spins a concoction of malediction around historical tragedy that’s more heinous hoopla and than harrowing horror and while the release bursts with razor sharp teeth and high pixelating resolution, channelling all the material rudimentary didn’t stay glued together in the end, hurting the character progressional arch and thinning out the hair-raising filament.