Blair Jensen rode the highlife of drugs and partying until her arrest that separated her from Husband Roberto and her young daughter. Her release a year later thrusts her into a desperate state of self-effacement, swearing to not only to herself, but also to others a clean slate with a life of sobriety and future employment to better her odds at court ordered visitations with her daughter, but while incarcerated, Roberto left for another woman and her family is in the hands of Donna who is eager to do anything in order to stop Blair’s interposing unto her new life, including retaining a witch to invoke the Obsidian curse onto her. The curse attracts all nearby evil toward her. From flesh eating demons and zombies to murderous serial killers and powerful vampires, Blair is constantly on the run and with the help of a former archaeologic professor and his colleagues, she can better understand her dreadful predicament.
“Obsidian Curse” is the 2016 action-horror from schlock and knock-off B-horror director Rene Perez whose brought us such cinematic gems as “The Burning Dead” with Danny Trejo and the “Playing with Dolls” franchise that spawned two sequels, titled “Bloodlust” and “Havoc”. Perez, who also penned the script, has a slight obsession with Obsidian curses as he directed and co-wrote “Obsidian Hearts” in 2014 with nearly an identical premise that begs the question whether Perez just rebooted his own film to tweak and change here and there to gain redemption for initial mistakes? Having never viewed “Obsidian Hearts,” I personally can’t speak upon the film’s merits, but what can be commented about “Obsidian Curse’s” appeal is that the relentless action smothers any kind of insipid narrative traverse and is massively ambitious in wrangling a meshing of a monster mash. Perhaps too massive for it’s budget, Perez roams the locale landscapes as a flawed heroine flees from the flock of fearsome fiends following her like flies to a foul stench. How’s that for alliteration!
Party girl, Blair Jensen, is trying to regain her life after incarceration, but the convicted mother never had a chance. Stripped of her rights and left to fend for herself for the first time, Jensen is at the bottom, starting over, and attempting to claw her way back up the rank to mother of the year with young daughter, but Karin Brauns doesn’t fit the bill. The Swedish-born, blonde beauty is gifted with a paint brush and a canvas, but her talents don’t translate well as the downtrodden Jensen. Perez really over sexualizes her presence from scrip-to-screen that doesn’t seem necessary to the story and Brauns egregiously lacks capturing the struggles of her character’s life changing freedom and the struggles she must endure to survive an all-evil summons. The character is also written and visually portrayed poorly that follows a released felon fallen on hard times having a nice vehicle to drive around, a cell phone to use, and all the makeup applications and hairdo fashions bestowed to the character in every scene. Reggie Bannister should have been the lead, because the “Phantasm” actor really exhibits falling on hard times. Perhaps the most convincing actor on camera, Bannister’s archeological professor is diluted to just a mere paranormal researcher which resembles a shell of his former gun-toting Reggie role. The dimpled chinned Richard Tyson is no longer the seared image of Crisp from “Kindergarten Cop” in my memory bank. The aged actor also fills a professor role in Pere’z film, but, like Bannister, doesn’t register a pulse. Hard to swallow to very screen captivating actors being diminished in performance on a movie that’s engulfed in horror action. Rounding out the cast is former Playboy model Cody Renee Cameron (“The Neon Demon””), John Caraccioli, Julia Lehman (“Constantine” television series), Charlie Glackin (“Playing with Dolls”), and John Scuderi as the Vampire.
While “Obsidian Curse” has entertainment value, the value is rather low on the metric scale. What’s missing from Perez’s film is a rich, engrossing story that requires more than just peppered moments of indistinct human connections spread thin throughout the storyboard action sequences. Blair Jensen might have been the victim of a witch’s dastardly cursed as the bread crumb trail for monsters of countless configurations, but the mother was never tested as, well, a mother whose supposed to be fighting for her daughter and while a scene or two of malicious attacks and chases on Jensen is the rudimentary premise of her plight, the curse never truly agitates into a test of her maternal bond or her compassion for her friends. As far as the overall appearances of the creatures, they check the box as meeting expectations. The rubbery, latex look is conventional of horror creatures in the 1990s and you can see the awkward folds and the distinctive differences between makeup and skin as the two don’t move or mesh appropriately, but the creativity behind the general appearance offers a broad range of antagonists suited for carnage like an empty eye socketed demon with razor teeth who sees by holding up his detached eyeball with a bloody optic nerve dangling about and a vibrant blue vampire with medieval armor and has sexy, disposable women servants.
Breaking Glass Pictures distributes “Obsidian Curse,” in association with High Octane Pictures and iDiC Entertainment, onto DVD home video. The 79 minute feature runs on an single sided, double-layered DVD9 and is exhibited in an widescreen 1.79:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality maintains vibrancy without loosing the edgy details though a large percentage is filtered through a blueish tint. The drone sequences of Blair running through a field, whacking zombies with a basement ball, withstands the picturesque and lush backdrop and even with Blair makes a splash in a creek, the beads of spray really come out in the quality for a DVD. Though quick to edit, the gory scenes are visually tasty too. The digital dual channel audio track is par for the course, but there are some balance issues between score and dialogue that makes Karin Brauns’ accent difficult to interpret. The foley is all out of whack and could use tinkering to hone in or expand upon the range and depth; the repetitive chain rattle used in Blair’s ball and chain chase scene desperately needed to be mixed better. Bonus features include a sole photo gallery. “Obsidian Curse” subsequently cursed itself with a slew of monsters but displayed no character substance to bind the narrative together, leaving Blair’s character arch to flounder in a mindless and endless cycle of bashing in the hostile chromes of enticed evil.
Hellbent on being the first to discover something big between 1000-feet, talented marine biologist and ecologist, Olive Crown, constructs a convincing case in a video hiring application to test a deep sea diving suit invented by Dr. Fletcher, but a harrowing encounter with monstrous creature at 2500 feet nearly claims Olive’s life. Blamed for a botch dive and unable to remember the incident, Olive has been fired from her dream position, but when she double checks the dive suit for evidence of what might have happened, she discovers an alien substance, an egg-like object, attached to the outer layer and smuggles it home. The egg hatches to birth a blood thirsty, Cthulhu being that has marked Olive as in a symbiotic relationship as protector and mother. Olive senses everything the creature does, even it’s hunger, and caves in to her discovery’s need to feed with those who antagonize Olive and her creature baby, but at an alarming rate, the life form grows into a mammoth creature and Olive might be losing the perspective of who is really in control.
“The Creature Below” puts a spin on a popularly wild H.P. Lovecraft tale and adds a notch into the belt of the Cthulhu mythos. From director Stewart Sparke in his first feature film comes one woman’s tragically macabre endowment that runs amok through the uninteresting confines of her own life and obliterate it from within. Co-written by Paul Butler, the British Cthulhu feature, “The Creature Below,” melds together a very grand unearthly story into the restrictive walls of an unwanted love triangle Olive’s involved in while dipping toes into also being a pre-Romero zombie film with the automata slave. Though very modest in story and budget, “The Creature Below” is an itsy-bitsy speck in a bigger mythological genre and that’s usually the case for indie Cthulhu flicks, as they should be, because giving a little mystery to Lovecraft’s myth tends to build worlds later, sparks the imagination aflame, and leaves a lasting impression long after the movie is over.
Anna Dawson stars as Olive Crown, creature’s foster parent, and Dawson’s first impression of Olive emits a fierce, go-getter ecologist, looking to make a name for herself in the deep dive exploration field. That egotistical drive tapers off a bit once she’s canned for botched dive, delivering a more humble and reserved Olive Crown, but Dawson puts on the sunken-eyed, icy-cold skin that’s clammy and deadlike in order to fulfill the infant Cthulhu’s bidding. Daniel Thrace embraces the lovably sweet boyfriend, Matthew, whose sensible, charming, and overall nice guy. The pair are complete oil and water, a welcoming dynamic, when Olive’s rationality goes off track. Olive and Matthew are really the only two developed characters as, disappointingly, three considerable major characters don’t build too much of a reputation to warrant their value, especially with Olive’s sister, Ellie, played by Michaela Longden. There’s something more between Ellie and Matthew that doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head and there’s also more to her staying with her sister, Olive, that the audience is not aware of and the scenes where Olive comments on her sister’s freeloading just loses all it’s credibility. The other two actors, roles awarded to Johnny Vivash and Zacharee Lee, are more involved in Olive’s deep sea dive and bring more of a well rounded antagonistic or betrayal personality to the table.
Sparke doesn’t linger too long on the creature, shielding it mostly behind a plastic tarp with a nude façade and that’s, perhaps, more in line with the micro budget constraints. In any case, Sparke focuses the story around Olive’s paranoia and obsession with the creature and with her boyfriend and the bitterness between him and her Sister, Ellie, seemingly toward Olive. Dave Walter has composed from start to finish a low and slow synth soundtrack, that’s familiar to a slowly anticipating heartbeat, and really heightens Olive’s spiraling paranoia similar to that of Ennio Morricone’s work on John Carpenter’s 1982 remake entitled “The Thing” where the eerily sounds of a personified isolation breaches every corner of your body, mind, and the dark room you’re in and all you can hear is that thump…thump…thump in a chest vibrating synchronicity of tones. While the soundtrack is riveting throughout, the story becomes a bit sluggish around the midsection in the sense that space and time don’t exists and Olive’s encounters with Dr. Fletcher, Dara, and various others, are halted to develop any kind of affluence amongst each other or with the audience. Even the ending, which I do adore on a certain level, bares the mark of being incomplete and devoid of substantiating that monolithic ending. There is some post-view satisfaction with the blend of practical and computer generated special effects and as I reflect on the film as a whole, to display a species from birth to adulthood, Sparke and his special effects team had amazing results that are fanned out well enough to leave a lasting impression of the unearthed creature’s visceral and intelligible girth.
Breaking Glass Pictures with Dark Rift Films in association with High Octane Pictures release “The Creature Below” onto DVD. The 16:9 widescreen presentation of this sci-fi horror thriller explores a sleek and clean, with a hint of being just a little hazy, picture that puts forth the appropriate dark grey and blue tone for an underwater or above water creature feature. The English Dolby 5.1 sound’s slightly muffled, but solid. Special features include a behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, “Rats” a short film, and a Frightfest Q&A. Stewart Sparke’s “The Creature Below” is not perfect and does have appalling, laughable moments, but underneath the surface is a UK film that’s budget-busting bold and aims to be a goliath in an indie market.