When Life Hands You EVIL, You Make EVIL-ade! “American Zombeland” reviewed! (ITN Distribution / DVD)


In Corsicana, Texas, Sam’s a zero-budget horror filmmaker whose trying to make it big in Hollywood, submitting every garbage zombie movie he can muster. When he receives a letter back from a film festival, he immediately calls for a party with all his friends and family in attendance, but the letter is actually a rejection letter, proving once again, that Sam’s still a filmmaking loser. In a stroke of turnaround events, an actual zombie apocalypse breaks out and the undead are knocking at his door. Jumping at the opportunity of top-notch, free special effects and a horde of zombie “actors,” Sam delegates his friends as the production crew, going out into a zombie infested Corsicana, Texas to shoot his legacy, non-Hollywood zombie epic.

If there was ever an American political and cultural lampooning zombie film, “American Zombieland” is it. Originally titled “Fat Ass Zombies,” the George Bennett written and directed horror-comedy nixes the original title, albeit keeping the rubric for Sam’s movie, and seemingly goes hot off the coattails of the Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg crowd-pleasing and long awaited sequel, “Zombieland 2: Double Tap.” As Bennett’s freshman directorial, he co-writes the feature with Christopher De Maria and Brave Matthews that’s has little to do with the loveably gory Ruben Fleischer riot. Instead, “American Zombieland” is a none-politically correct satirical farce that’s sticking a hard poker at red state, gun-toting conservatives and the morbidly obese American subsociety lifestyle, sporting the red, white, and blue as if being patriotically proud being 300+ pounds. Brother and sister, George and Karina Bennett, co-founded company, MagicBullet Media, and Summertown productions fund and serve as the production company.

As a running joke, the story continues to deface one of Sam’s zero-budget films, “Dead Beat Zombie Dad.” In reality, “Dead Beat Zombie Dad” is a zero-dollar budget short comedy by David Slayter who wore multiple hats in the cast and crew of “American Zombie” and was not, in fact, a film directed by MagicBullett Media executive product and lead actor of the film, Dave Mussen in his first horror-comedy performance as the downtrodden, piss-poor director Sam. Mussen’s resembles the average joe; he bares no chisel chin, he’s balding, and does a good enough job being a mediocre individual so pretending a hectored filmmaker for his obscene and schlocky small horror ventures didn’t perceive challenging. One of the more memorable characters is the flagrantly perverse, yet harmless Poppers, played by FX’s “The Bridge’s” Johnny Dowers. Dowers dons a Joe Exotic-like green dyed hairstyle, handlebar mustache, and a slippery slope into unfashionable redneck garb with a more than less-Tiger King pizazz. Dowers steals much of Dave Mussen’s scenes as an unforgettable caricature a grease monkey yokel. On the opposite spectrum is A.D. Johnson as Horatio, a tragic character not exactly from the same vain as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but deride a proper Englishman’s snide accent to be the ever condescending and stanch critic of Sam’s projects. “American Zombieland” cast and extras are vast, including Kristen Renton (“Xenophobia”), Samantha Walker (“Ghost Story Chronicles”), Bryan Handy, Stephen Archer, Sondra Currie, and Benjamin Chamberlain.

George Bennett and crew attempt a horror-comedy aimed at desensitizing and making light of beliefs and lifestyles. What results is a crude, rude, and painfully stale fly by the seem of the pants zombie ruckus on an average entertainment scale that relies heavily on poop and fart jokes, missing the mark of sarcastic repartee targeting misrepresentative patriotism embodied by big corps, big bodies, and big racism. “American Zombieland” ultimately is a big mess of a narrative with characters coming and going without a visual diagram, segues are muddled beyond the power of understanding, and, again, the ill-approached poop and fart jokes. “American Zombieland” is also a big F.U. to the uppity and disheartening inner workings of Hollywood and, in my opinion, this is where Bennett and “American Zombieland” excels, casting caution to the wind with an unorthodox, zomedy to be frank as possible and not really giving a care of what others think – my self more than likely included. Not everything in the film is unfunny or uninteresting, such as with a pothead’s vivid visual quest of an animated interjection of seemingly random bits of American identifiers, consumerism, and, again, poop and fart jokes; a scene that reminded me of the dessert hallucination/Rob Zombie music video segment from “Beavis and Butt-head Do America.”

“American Zombieland” is the anti-Hollywood, independent zombie-comedy brought to DVD home video by ITN Distribution and Millcreek Entertainment. The DVD is presented in an anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and features a steady natural lighting for much of the 1 hour and 28 minute runtime, not focusing on creative mattes or visual tweaks to up the ante. There are some impressively seamless drone ariel shots that exhibit little lag from the compression. Amongst a lot of the foreground focusing, skin tones look correct despite a minor softness in the detail and the night scenes are balanced out properly. Lastly, the visual effects are above par quality, the ariel shots of smoke and fire coming out of houses, the lawnmower death, and other visual sfx renders out nicely. The English Dolby Digital dual channel audio output has limitations, especially for a zombie film that powers it’s fear by the moans of the undead, but for what it is, the audiophiles are better than expected with a robust two channel mix. Dialogue is clear, soundtrack has range, and ambience is a bit overzealous…again, with the poop and fart jokes. Bonus features only include the trailer. Scatterbrained undead folly, “American Zombieland” is a rash whack of cultural farce without literally scattering brains, falling short of the intended meaning, and becoming tousled in it’s own jumbled message.

Only on DVD! “American Zombieland” at Amazon!

EVIL is the Carousal Centerpiece of Hell! “The Devil’s Fairground” reviewed! (MGI Films and ITN Distribution / Screener)


A pair of struggling paranormal investigator groups have been reduced to the gimmicky capturing and recording pay schemes of alleged ghost and spirit interactions, but when a hack actor is hired to setup a meet and greet with an apparent demon possessed girl, their investigation leads Freaky Link’s Jacob and Shawn and Spooky Links’ Lace and Rob to an abandoned and dilapidated fairground as the source of the girl’s possession. Upon arrival, they’re immediately sucked into the epicenter of Hell to battle for their very souls.

Jacob and Shawn return to confront the ruthless terrors of supernatural forces once again in “Anna 2: Freaky Links,” aka, ITN distributed titled “The Devil’s Fairground,” and aka, better known as simply, “Anna 2,” in this low-key horror-comedy sequel from the Crum brothers, director Michael and screenwriter Gerald, delivering infernal Hell straight out of the Lonestar state of Texas. Honestly, I’ve never seen the prior film, “Anna,” and at first glance, “Anna” was seemingly a rip from the successful coattails of “The Conjuring’s” universe sub story, “Annabelle,” involving a doll embodying the forces of evil. However, despite the comparable titles and a shade of the narrative, “Anna” and “The Devil’s Fairground” veer into a novel realm of the deep and ultra-surreal that became the basic construction materials needed for lush nightmares. The Dallas-Fort Worth based production company, MGI Films, founded by Michael Crum, backed the film saw fit to update the title form “Anna 2: Freaky Links” to “The Devil’s Fairground,” a simple, yet improved title change that landed some viewing confusion when the original title graced the scree when the original title graced the screen, like for myself who enjoys going into a movie knowing nothing. MGI Films has also produced “Lake Fear” and “Blood Vow.”

Returning as paranormal private eyes, Jacob and Shawn, are Justin Duncan and Gerald Crum as the hapless duo who barely survived the first demonic doll encounter and team up with the Spooky Links investigators Lace (Mercedes Peterson) and Rob (John Charles Dickson, “Meathook Massacre 3: First Hunt”) to combine their joint efforts and their holy water filled water guns up against an unknown evil. Initially, Jacob and Shawn are written without much consideration of the first happenstance with only brief hints that mean little to the layman toward the Crum pagan pageantry. There’s obvious history between the two groups beyond being competitive supernatural sleuths that’s difficult to sift through to make a full, clearer picture on their quarrelsome nature, but one thing is certain, both Freaky Link and Spooky Links are desperate to be validated ghost hunters. Gerald Crum’s script might have dissected the thick tension between the characters, but the poor audio quality and the loose preface that dots the eyes between both predecessor and sequel is about as abstract as the Hell they find themselves swallowed in. Daniel Frank, Kenzie Pallone, Shannon Snedden, and Vandi Clark fill out the cast list.

“The Fair Ground” is a tricky trickster when judgement comes during the credit roll. With all the audio issues during the story setup, as aforementioned, connecting with the characters and the story proved dreadfully challenging conjoining against the fact that I have never seen the film’s antecedent, “Anna.” I was lost, confused, and struggling to keep up with the exposition that didn’t circulate visibly a perfect picture of “Anna” to bring the viewer up to speed. Also, the very fact “Anna 2: Freaky Links” title is displayed and not “The Devil’s Fairground” threw me for a loop; I had to pause and look back at the press release to see if I was watching the correct feature. However, in the end, “The Fair Ground” became an absolute diamond in the rough with a delectably profound scare factory of terror imagery, wallowing in the timely executions in Michael Crum’s editing and Gerald Crum’s imaginative visual and special effects. Though some will see the effects being rough around the edges, the shock-horror discordances work without question with a pack of ghoulish bug-eyed zombies, a carousal of shuttering specters, a foreboding carnival PA system, an aborted past lurking in dark waters, and an overgrown monster with the biggest butcher blade you’ve ever seen while peppering with scenes of powerful gore interjections. It’s something very reminiscent of the cinema adaptations of “Silent Hill.” A lot of the imagery doesn’t make sense, like the jarring slivers of a bad dream, but I wouldn’t expect Hell to be or need to be a place of complete rational and our minds are able to grasp the nuts and bolts of it. “The Devil’s Fairground’s” interpretation is just as real, as scary, and as aptly damning without the grounded laws of physics to ease the dispiriting attitude of multi-faceted and gratifying torture and soul swallowing the investigators are subjected to. Whatever was left of a meaningful plot is whittled down to a more basic posture, a group of people engulfed by the fiery Abyss, and the movie is all better for it.

Get sucked into the depths of the blazing inferno thrill ride with “The Devil’s Fairground” on DVD home video, announced by MGI Films and distributed by ITN Distribution. Unfortunately, the video and audio specs won’t be reviewed due to being an online screener, but I did mention the dialogue is limited, capturing very little of the softly laid discourse leading up to all hell breaking loose. There are no special features included with the screener or incorporated within the feature itself. There were times I knew the jump scare was coming and, still, I couldn’t contain the tension as a little part of me died from the inside. “The Devil’s Fairground” is an up and down roller coaster of feeble and fright with a weak story abutted against concentrated horror and gore in a must-see film.

A Must-Buy! “The Devil’s Fairground” on DVD!

Run And Hid When Yuletide EVIL Comes A Calling! “Pagan Warrior” reviewed! (ITN Distribution / DVD)


In Medieval times of Sussex, England, a powerful English king, who has kept the seething Viking savages at bay for decades, has died, vacating the throne to his son, Rollo. The Vikings seize the opportunity during this time of transition and storm the Saxon Castle, nearly killing the monarchy and all of throne’s subjects left to oppose them. With their daughter Avery kidnapped and themselves on the brink of death, King Rollo and Queen Silvia are revived by two women of the woods, a pair of witch sisters known as Constance and Millicent, who use their mystical healing powers and offer the king retribution by summoning the Yuletide monster, Krampus. In return for slaughtering the Viking usurpers, the Krampus will collect his debt in exactly 10 years, taking whatever is precious and dear as payment from the vengeful King Rollo.

Krampus has become a major media trend over the last decade, popping up in all forms of popular culture that compounded lore inside the leafy pages of books and magazines to the beast’s frighteningly half-goat, half-man exterior making for great big screen monster entertainment. The inverse icon of jolly Saint Nicholas offers punitive measures for bad little girls and boys and is sometimes referred as a companion to Saint Nicholas who probably turned a decisive blind eye to little brat Johnny’s enjoyably thievery and torture of chickens from a neighboring farm. “Pagan Warrior” is yet another narrative of the Christmas creature spun with different fabric and woven into a bitter feud of two contending enemies told modestly by director Louisa Warren (“Tooth Fairy”), produced by Warren’s London, UK based production company, ChampDog Films, a creative outlet for independent film ventures that are mostly in the horror genre and are sometimes inferior versions of bigger budget films, in the same vein as Asylum Entertainment. The script comes from Shannon Holiday (“Bride of Scarecrow”) that conveys an ageless theme of beware of what you wish for and the price of blind vengeance.

“Pagan Warrior” hones in on numerous character stories, never clearly defining a single perspective. King Rollo, played by “Escape from Cannibal Farm’s Peter Cosgrove, becomes the royal fate sealer as what he deems necessary and right is, in fact, the worst possible scenario a mad king could bestow upon himself by calling upon the supernatural death dealers for revenge. Cosgrove cleans up nicely as an English blue blood whose bequest incorporates a lineage of fighting kings with Cosgrove taking his role with due importance despite a humbling filmmaking production. King Rollo’s counterpart, the merciless Viking Ubbe fitted for Carey Thring (“Scarecrow’s Revenge”), combats a war on two fronts – the contentious bout with King Rollo and an internal family squabble that beleaguer the bond between him and his wife (Kate Milner Evans, “Pet Graveyard”) and child (Adam Sugawara, “Virtual Death Match”) as he tries to court princess Avery with a crude sexual advances. Thring’s vision of Ubbe is a classically depicted villain whose stronger with allies and a whimpering coward when alone in a fight, especially when the Krampus comes calling for his head. Darrell Griggs dons the makeup, prosthetics, and wardrobe of the horned beast, becoming the folklore of a cursed death who not only pursues the 12 month progression of horrible children, but also the appointed damned when conjured for a hit. Krampus’ outward appearance is pleasing and Griggs provides the lumbering and slight preternatural motions that give Krampus that dreaded paranormal mysticism. “Pagan Warrior” rounds out with Sarah T. Cohen (“ClownDoll”), Jessica O’Toole (“Pet Graveyard”), Mike Kelson (“Scarecrow’s Revenge”), Hattie Willow (“The Mermaid’s Curse”), Will Todd (“Mummy Reborn”), and Tara MacGowran (“Mother Krampus”) and director Louisa Warren as the women of the woods.

ChampDog Films uses a tightknit group of actors and filmmakers to sell archaic swordplay action fastened against demonic folklore and despite the underwhelming band of Vikings versus an equally small English contingent squaring off in front of a historic English castle with virtually no ample practical or CGI era enhanced presentations, the production just barely eeks by with Feudal times. Wisely, Warren shoots a number of character closeup shots, avoiding much of the surrounding modern elements and forcing audiences to focus just on the characters who are dolled up for Medieval times roleplay. Where the battle scenes and smart camera work flourish, the Shannon Holiday script becomes the ultimate weak link in the chain with a predictable plot storied with terribly cliched and uninteresting characters that couldn’t grip a sword let alone one’s attention. The story begins with its most shocking ending scene, thwarting any possibility of surprise for even the most dense and cinematically uneducated individual for the ruse play out. There is also this millennium goof in the opening backstory credits indicating events take place in 812 AD and in the same breath, mentioned also is the three days of December 1812 that this episode occurs. Since 1812 England was all about redcoats, guns, and war with America colonies, I would assume 812 AD would be the correct time period against a Viking invasion.

In what is not exactly a Christmas holiday horror movie, the malediction of the “Pagan Warrior” spread little holiday cheer and more yesterday fear onto an ITN Distribution and Mill Creek Entertainment DVD. Presented in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ration, on a single layer DVD, sheathed inside a DVD cover that looks cooler than the actual movie itself, the lower end production avoids stylizing a historical based feature with tinted mattes, computer imagery, or any other miscellaneous camera effects seeking more toward a naturalistic cinematography that utilizes the hues at hand. Pastel blacks jump with noise and posterization from the electronic interference whereas the existing hues exhibit a less than rich approach of a more vapid green, brown, and stonewall beige. The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio mix maintains a level of consistency. Sometimes, Krampus’ dialogue is murky because of the extra gnarling effect parroting an LFE emitting voice; however, dialogue is mainly clear and prominent. English SDH is an available option. For a time period action-horror, the lack of rudimentary range and depth troubles with little sense into the effort of adding skirmishing swords and Krampus’ reverberating growls always seem to be right next to the camera. The only bonus feature available is the trailer. With conventional means of dispatching people, “Pagan Warrior” shadows more of the slasher concept conjured by the breath of the desperate who misfires judgment rather than being an omnipotent being summoned like a djinn for total annihilation in exchange for a debt in this good faith effort by Louisa Warren of Krampus diabolism.

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“Pagan Warrior” is also included with Amazon Prime!

EVIL Knows No Off-Limits! “Restricted Area” reviewed! (ITN Distribution/DVD)


Four blue-collar friends are being laid off from their steel mill jobs; family generations are engrained with the blood and sweet of the mill, but the somber moment is humbling and harsh when responsibilities come to collect. They decided to throw one last hurrah, a boozy camping trip into the rocky wilderness, before life hits them hard. The calm and tranquil getaway turns deadly when acolytes of Unionology, a cult secluded to the restricted areas, sets sights on trespassing campers with the four friends right in the middle of the hunt. After teaming up with another hiker and the disappearance of one of the friends, a fight for survival ensues against armed masked men and an unhinged cult leader along the mountainside where it’s not only man versus nature, it’s also man versus man.

The great outdoors continues to be synonymous with a hot spot for murder, mayhem, and overall doom and gloom in Christopher M. Don’s debut backwoods cult thriller of survival entitled “Restricted Area.” Dons pens as his second script behind the savagery, snowy slopes of his ski-sploitation horror, “Minutes to Midnight,” where masked men with a cryptic agenda hunt down patrons of a ski lodge set upon a mountain. Don must have an fondness for producing screenplays where masked killers stalk in wilderness elements as “Minutes to Midnight” plot is essentially the same as “Restricted Area” without the sound-damping snow. Produced by Gear Up Productions, which I assume is Christopher Don’s company, climbs very little up to being a modest budget feature and retains around camping along the super low financial terrain based off the already exaggerated beliefs of Scientology that, if at all, lightly treads to more escalating and thrilling heights.

With being an indie feature on a microbudget, Don implements his cast to being his actors as well, including himself as Cody, the nearly silent onscreen brother to his real life brother, Robert Don, as the film’s lead, Tyler. Tyler’s a rough and tough steel mill worker with his biceps bulging from his sleeveless, black puffer jacket and hunting knife strapped to his waist side, but as far as depth goes, Tyler lacks significant worth from little backstory and no character arc. Whatever Tyler does isn’t exactly bursting with energy by Robert Don’s deadpan manner. Who recoils from inexpressiveness is West Murphy playing Axel, the goofy and boastful friend whose really blowhard, and though Murphy sprinkles flavoring upon and around most of the monotonically adrift slop, Axel’s one-trick pony can’t even offer much else to the story, not even a glorious death that would be redeeming for such droll stereotypes. “Restricted Area” houses random entries and exits of characters that can make viewers anxious, concerned, and down right frustrated with the arbitrary fates of Harold (“Big Bad Bugs’” Phillip Andrew Botello) who disappears with only a little sliver of where he might be in the closing scene and the blank white masked cultist with a machete who leaves more intrigue of a boss level villain than is actually divulged in the story. Paige Lindsay Betts, Ross Britz (“Ozark Sharks”), Emily Gardt (“Satan’s Seven”), Nicholas Cole (“Stripped”), Randy Wayne, Gus Moore, Wilmer Hernandez, and schlock horror internet pundits and, Shawn C. Phillips and Danny Filaccio fill out the cast list.

“Restricted Area” already has a zillion things going against the meek and humble feature albeit the aforesaid above from the mishandling of characters, but the bearings, picked from the litter of many categories, never comes into focal clarity and shimmy their way to eek by toward a rather enigmatic end. Out of the 112 minute runtime, Christopher Don’s screenplay couldn’t consists of more than 60 to 70 pages of dialogue and scenes with the remaining footage for the feature being supplemented with overkilled filler scenes of Tyler and his band of survivalists wandering around an idyllic traipse, dysfunctional and unnecessary segue edits repeat nearly themselves and just extend into filler scenes themselves, and the bombardment of landscapes – lots and lots of landscapes. There was even one faux pas of a wooded mountainside that was shamelessly shot straight from a magazine advertisement with the advertised site text very visible in the scene. There’s also a scene with a real rattlesnake that, by chance, wandered into production and Don decided misplace this miracle amongst inside another wandering group montage. To continue on the script, the convoluted nature of the cult wanted to kill a young boy becomes lost as this boy comes and goes as he pleases, pleading without any dire sense of urgency for Tyler to save his life. Yet, this dubious boy never seems to be frightened, frantic, or even in cahoots when considering the cult’s dastardly plan to end his time on this Earth.

ITN Distribution and Mill Creek Entertainment’s call to the wild is a survivalist nightmare in Christopher Don’s “Restricted Area,” pitching a tent into the DVD market with a home video release. The DVD is presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio on a single layer, region one disc. Perhaps one of the worst presentations I’ve seen lately with the low bit rate, big compression artifact issues that denounces detail clarity right from the get-go, settling into a fuzzy and blotchy 112 minute, from start-to-finish, runtime. The color palette doesn’t pop either inside the parameters of a faded natural scheme that bares no attempt to use any shade of tint to offer more than just the bare minimum to survive. The English language Dolby Digital stereo dual channel mix plays the same rugged tune with lossy quality in dialogue, ambience, and Michael Levinson’s synthy soundtrack, which is perhaps one of the film’s few highlights in lieu of his debut. Still, a harsh feedback echo on the dialogue dampens the authenticity of the ordeal and poor mic placement dilutes the fidelity even more. Optional English SDH is available. Bonus features includes an audio commentary, trailer, and a quaint blooper and outtake reel. “Restricted Area” doesn’t have the authority required to be a gouging survival horror as all sides of the cinematic terrain are too rough for an visual and audio trek and the script lays to waste with drone dispositions and careless considerations that needs to be post noted and restricted from itself.

“Restricted Area” on DVD

Evocation of EVIL in “The Girl In the Crawlspace” reviewed! (ITN Distribution / DVD)


Jill escapes from the grip of a kidnapping-serial killer who kept her confined in a crawlspace under the house. Her courage brings lethal justice to the captor when the local marshal shoots and kills him upon confrontation. Jill struggles to reintegrate back into her local community in the aftermath, sleeping unconfined in the outdoors and withdrawing herself for social interaction, including from her weekly role playing game with friends. When Kristen moves back into her hometown from college, she aims to set up her therapy practice to assist families impacted by the serial killer as well as Jill by special request from the marshal, but Kristen’s rocky relationship with her substance abusive, off-Hollywood screenwriting husband on the mend drags out Jill’s much needed treatment. With Jill and Kristen preoccupied, they’re oblivious to the concealed threat that plots the next terrorizing exploit of kidnapping and tormenting young, beautiful women.

From under the grubby wooden floorboards to the strategic folding table of a role playing game, “The Girl in the Crawlspace” is the Midwest direct-to-video suspense thriller that tackles post-traumatic stress and marital strife while submersed in a looming trail left by a notorious mass murderer, written and helmed by first time director John Oak Dalton. Dalton, who has penned several low-budget grindhouse titles over the last decade and half, including titles such as “Among Us,” “Sex Machine,” and “Jurassic Prey,” returns once again to the genre with the repercussions of Podunk psychopath upon small town America, filmed in Indiana and release in 2018 hitting the ground running with film festival circuits. Indie filmmaker Henrique Couto, schlock horror director of “Scarewaves” and “Marty Jenkins and the Vampire Bitches,” signs on as producer, stepping back from his usual productional duties, and letting an occasional collaborator Dalton to completely engulf himself as the omnipotent auteur. Midwest Film Ventures serves as the production company, shot in Farmland, Indiana.

Erin R. Ryan has continuously sustained a low level hover on the indie horror radar after taking her in Dustin Mill’s “Bath Salt Zombies,” based on the Miami incident based on a naked man eating someone’s face induced by being high on bath salts, and the gooey-gory body horror, “Skinless,” that’s also a Mills production. Ryan expands her portfolio outside physical horror with Jill, a traumatized recluse derived from her abduction and torture, as a subdued component that’s contrary to previous roles, but Ryan capitalizes the opportunity of a scared kitten, recoiling from public gatherings, and slowly and silently emerging back into society while recalling chilling moments as the story progresses. However, there’s difficult pinpointing the head lead as the protagonist roles are shared between Ryan and depicted married couple, a pair of more Henrique Couto casted actors, in Joni Durian and John Bradley Hambrick as Kristen and her husband, John. Between the three, chemistry clicks better than cooking meth in a chemist’s unsanctioned laboratory and offer ample contention without the attending killer’s presence hanging over the whole town’s head. Rounding out the remaining cast is Chelsi Kern (“Scarecrow Count”), Joe Kidd (“Ouija Room”), Jeff Kirkendall (“Sharkenstein”), Clifford Lowe (“Scarecrow County”), and re-introducing Tom Cherry as the good old boy town officer, Marshal Woody.

With a title like “The Girl in the Crawlspace,” I would be remiss if I didn’t say there were some expectations of bodily torture, psychological terror, and teeth-clinching tension when sitting down to watch. The hype was high considering the post-after-post amount of positivity for “The Girl in the Crawlspace” on my Twitter feed. The catchy name and optimistic comments provided real temptation, but Dalton steers in another direction, the what follows in the state of everlasting shock and the reliving of moments seared into your psyche. The direction wasn’t as expected, but that’s necessary a bad thing. “The Girl in the Crawlspace” is exposition heavy with considerable amount of movie referencing peppered with some current event topics, such as the brief mentioning of killing of migrant children, throughout and continuously wanders off point, strolling more into Kristen and John’s crumbling marriage. Jill, the supposed centerpiece of the story, feels more like an afterthought, despite being the “girl” in “The Girl in the Crawlspace.” The cantankerous marriage supposedly jeopardizes those personally involved in Jill’s well-being as John exploits Jill’s idiosyncratic experiences from being a captive by turning them into inspirational junk food for his fading screenwriting career, but the catalyst incident doesn’t stick, becoming more of a weak opening for a more pronounced return of Jill’s haunting past.

From ITN Distribution and Mill Creek Entertainment, “The Girl in the Crawlspace” lands onto a not rated DVD home video release. The single layer DVD is presented in a full frame widescreen of an 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In a framing sense, Henrique Couto’s cinematography distinctly places small town in a spectrum view that highlights the soybean fields and farms, the rustic brick infrastructures, and the simplicities of a relaxed, old-fashioned town, using some drone shots to expose the green belt greenery. For an indie feature, the agreeable bitrate has a frank, clear image despite some consistent overexposure that softens details, especially on faces in the outside scenes. The Dolby Digital stereo 2.0 mix has also agreeable dual channel output. Some of the dialogue scenes suffer through an echo, but for the majority, the lines have clarity and unobstructed by ambient layers or the soundtrack. The depth discloses some distant ambiguities, such as in a train shot that’s not rendered in the background as it should, but the amount of range is palatable. English SHD subtitles are available. The only bonus features available on the release are the theatrical trailer and an commentary with producer Henrique Couto and director John Oak Dalton regarding their history together and going through the shot techniques as well as touching upon the actors. The road to recovery is paved in nightmares, psychological terror, and Midwest psychopaths in “The Girl in the Crawlspace,” but pitches away from the principal concern that turns second fiddle to one struggling screenwriter’s difficult assimilation into rural life while simultaneously rethreading a floundering livelihood and a tattered marriage.

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