When developer project manager Daniel, on the verge of a lucrative deal in flattening an old rental property , meets Nina, a clairvoyant who rents space on the property, an mystifying, and on the house, psychic reading opens up old wounds of Daniel’s previous life involving the death of his beloved artist wife, Maggie. The successful developer becomes frantically obsessed with reaching Maggie from the other side, believing he is paying Nina handsomely to be a vessel conduit, but as a single mother on the verge of losing everything, Nina exploits Daniel’s fixation on the past that’s more dangerous than initially presumed. Daniel and Nina become sexually and spiritually entangled on two false pretense fronts while behind the scenes, a malevolent presence orchestrates a sinister campaign of perverse revenge.
In her fiction feature film debut, Ilana Rein writes and directs “Perception,” a 2018 suspense thriller aimed unsheathe and reactivate the agonizing secrets and those who reap the benefits from them. Rein, who previously helmed documentaries that includes the award winning Battlestar Galatica fandom documentary, “We Are All Cyclons, pivots from non-fiction into creative invention alongside producer and writing partner Brian Smith. “Perception” tackles various themes from severe mental illness, to dangerous obsession, to how we initially and naively perceive individuals without knowing exactly who they really are, especially when they’re in the white collar, high dollar, social category. Rein focuses on rooting out psychotic and sociopathic qualities through the power of flashbacks while chucking in a scornful spirit into the background for good climatic measure.
“Perception” perceives hard bodies and chiseled faces over a few recognizable ones, which typically isn’t a bad aspect of filmmaking but may not draw a wide viewership. Though in the entertainment industry for some time, Wes Ramsey is one of those fresh faces, headlining as Daniel, the successful developer with an unhealthy mania for his deceased wife. Ramsey has seen more roles in television than in feature films, but the “Brotherhood of Blood” and “Dracula’s Guest” actor pockets horror theatrics here and there and uses his tall, dark, and handsome charm to be a good source for Daniel as the presumptuous, if not stereotypical, good guy. Opposite Ramsey is Meera Rohit Kumbhani, an Indian American actress with beautiful big and round eyes, to star as the clairvoyant Nina. Kumbhani has solid onscreen sincerity and a sexiness to match, but as Ninia’s has a principle crises, Kumbhani is able to sell practically a RickRolls performance that fools us all as uncertainty clouds judgement about her ethics when it’s whether to exploit a desperate widow or pay for her troubled young son’s educational necessities. Together, Ramsey and Kumbhani contently compliment each other’s performances and when you mixed the specter playing Chaitlin Mehner in flashback sequences, an out-of-body love triangle experience ensues. Rounding out the cast is Max Jenkins, J Ro, Vee Kumari, and J. Barrett Cooper as the only face I recognize more recently from Nathan Thomas Millinar’s “A Wish for the Dead.”
The depth of the story, especially with main characters Daniel and Nina, really hinders judgement on the outputted result. Not enough vivid and harrowing memories of Daniel and Maggie’s rocky relationship stir very little toward a stroppy receipt for disaster. Their coupling went from casual to 120 mph in two scenes flat never laying down a sturdy foundation on why viewers should put stock into their story if there’s no stock to really sell. Same can be said for Nina and her son’s simmering obtuse relationship where Nina believes all is hunky-dory, despite her son’s suddenly mute stature, and her unmotherly attentiveness to his disturbingly illustrated clues to his inner demons. Stronger supporting characters saw through the boy’s facade, such as Nina’s friend J Ro (who plays himself, by the way) and her mother; both of whom are on the polar opposite sides of the clairvoyant spectrum. Those underwhelming characters flaws suck the energy out from the main arteries in Daniel and Nina’s carnal exploits and meddling to thwart the very fiber of “Perception’s” thrilling suspense.
Ilana Rein’s “Perception” comes to DVD home video courtesy of Gravitas Ventures and presented into a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ration. Image quality is obvious clean as with all digitally shot, yet the hues are a slightly warm, favoring more of a yellowish tint into every scene, and while maintaining solid definition, some scenes bask in a softer glow at times. Stylistically, not much to report as the film follows conventional strides. The English language 5.1 surround sound has strong, dialogue favoring, and balanced with depth and range. There is also a dual channel track available, but not really needed, as enough dramatics flare up to tip into the five channel. As bonus features go, there are none. Ilana Rein’s debut into the feature film market could have been worse, but “Perception” is a strong entry into the horror-thriller market with some Hitchcockian undertones. Definitely sexy and psychotic, “Perception” puts onto a pedastal humanity’s worst when the sheep’s clothing has finally shed and that’s worth reviewing.
Flustered about the severe flop of her latest book, crime novelist Robin Richards encounters writers’ block as a result. Losing inspiration in the big city with her droll boy-toy, her publisher recommends a visit to the scenic Swedish countryside as a change of pace that’ll remove her out from the comfortable surroundings and, hopefully, begin to craft new ideas for a rebound book. Totally out of her element quartered inside a farm residence, Richards can’t help to investigate her peculiar hosts and a chauffeur, a super fan who is besotted with her while his wife voices her utter disdain for the writer, but their odd behaviors stimulate inspiration for her work beyond her ability to observe that something is dreadfully and dangerously wrong with them.
From a title that can be interpreted as an oxy-moron, “Blood Paradise” spills onto the screen as a sexy suspense-thriller with pinpoint-peppered dry comedy. The Swedish bred film is directed by Patrick von Barkenberg, who also has an important-minor role contribution to the narrative as well as co-written alongside the film’s lead, Andréa Winter, that proposes total control over the juxtaposition of not only the sane versus the insane, but also enthralls with a crime storyteller from the city thrust into her own calamitous tale of murder on the rural fringes. Barkenberg and Winter have poised chemistry weaving a story that’s mostly building the bizarre attributes of characters with even Robin Richards’ pooled into that group being a stranger in a strange land; the filmmakers’ past collaborations of short films, including “A Stranger Without” and “A Little Bit of Bad,” firmly establishes them as being the right kind auteurs for the job.
As stated in the above, Andréa Winter stars as Robin Richards, an adventurously alluring writer willing to try anything to get her career back on track. Winter, who is also an electro indie pop singer in Baby Yaga, is as stunning at her performance as she is in her natural beauty with a role that tenaciously exhibits her uneasiness with the locals and their bare necessities while also not being afraid to bare nearly all herself in compromising positions and places. While Robin is most solitary in conversation as she is interactions with other characters, there’s great dynamic contrast with Hans. Hans Bubi and, yes, if you say it out loud, a definite nod to a memorable line from “Die Hard.” Played by Christer Cavallius in his sole imdb.com credit, Cavallius’s wide-eyed and big smile below his shoulder length hair makes him a comical to a point and when you add Hans’ current hell of a marital status with a potted plants devoted woman and his mental blocking obsession with Robin Richards, the overly flawed and desperately optimistic character has hopes and dreams from a slim chance opening that he is hesitant in completely seizing, though we, and even perhaps Hans himself, knows the outcome if he took the risk. Another character highly involved in Richards’ circle of exchanges is with the farmer, Rolf, played by Rolf Brunnström. Rolf is a seriously complex character, an irresistible mystery to the author who spies on his enigmatic tasks involving a locked barn with windows covered with plastic. Rolf’s detached and impassive with his wife’s death that looms throughout the story and Brunnström, a middle-aged man, turns out to be more than his simple life implies. “Blood Paradise” remaining cast includes Martina Novak, Ingrid Hedström, Ellinor Berglund, and Frankie Batista.
Finding the comedy in a film like “Blood Paradise” might be a task suited for people with a dark sense of humor, but the quality is present and can be compared to the offbeat nature that Eli Roth subtly nurtured in his breakout flesh-eating squeamish-er “Cabin Fever.” Dry and restrained, the comedy is dialed down to a low-lying hum in “Blood Paradise,” honing in frequently on the sexualized suspense that’s audience attractive and runs parallel with Robin Richards profession as a crime novelist who pens tales involving gimp-cladded deviants, and the story simmers to a boil, reducing down story intricacies into an unraveled macabre of things once dead are now very much alive in transcendence, just like a good crime narrative should unfold.
Gripping with toe-curling tension, “Blood Paradise” arrives on a Blu-ray home video courtesy of the Philadelphia based distribution company, Artsploitation Films. Presented in HD, full 1080p anamorphic widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Artsploitation Films has a remarkable looking release on their hands that’s soft where intended and detailed where necessary, registering a vast palette of rich colors thats typical with digital films recorded with an Arri camera, as listed on the internet movie data base. The English and Swedish 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound has an equally good and clean facet of range and depth for a rather subdued thriller that’s more mystery, than panic stricken. Soundtrack by Andréa Winter adds a bit of lively-atrocity synth that doesn’t push through enough to be a factor in it’s assimilation between the ambience and dialogue tracks. Bonus material includes three deleted scenes and two music videos by Baby Yaga – “Dreamer” and “You and Me” – that feature artistic renders of the film. “Blood Paradise” is no tick sipping on sangre-sangrias on a beach somewhere. Patrick von Barkenberg’s “Blood Paradise” captivates in the inexplicable without sheering away from fraught character contexts while still maintaining a healthy dose of sex appeal and blood.
Joe Carroll is out! The killer has made his dramatic escape by using his scared to death prey. Ryan Hardy can’t keep up with Carroll and his following, always being one, sometimes to one, behind. Unlike the previous episode, episode seven omits the twists and turns; instead, the focus on death, escape, and incarceration – and not just by Carroll.
We’re exposed to more of Carroll’s connections who, like him, are deeply disturbed and very calm about their whole mentally distraught situation. We’re also discovering that each follower has a specific skill set – Charlie expert in covert recon or Linda who can slice you up without you even knowing – and each have this part to play as I mentioned before in previous reviews.
I expect that the next episode will contain more chaos under uncontrolled circumstances. Now with Carroll out of the federal prison system, he’ll wreak more havoc and sure put Hardy in the hot seat. The next episode seems to have the followers and Carroll put the FBI in their sights. Will one of the main characters bite it? We’ll see!