This EVIL Santa is Ho, Ho, Horrible. “Slayed” reviewed! (Terror Films / Digital Screener)

Five years after a murderous, Santa Claus-cladded maniac massacred a couple of young women in the dank basement of a water treatment plant in Harris County, AZ, the stigma of the plant being open has caused enough controversy, heartache, and notoriety for the local residents and will soon close the chained-link gate forever to soon transform into a car dealership. On the last day of operation, Christmas Eve night, the lone survivor of that night five years ago walks vigilantly around the perimeter with a tingled sense that something just isn’t right as he stashes weapons around the facility…just in case. With the last administrative staff gone for the night and a novice guard at the helm of watch, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, until there arose such a clatter and who did the guard and the survivor find? It was the return of Jolly Old Saint Nick with an axe to grind.

Merry Christmas, readers! You can’t spread Christmas fear without watching at least one, count them one, homicidal Holidays flick starring our favorite Yuletide strangler, Santa Claus. This year, the Fatman reins down upon a few unfortunate recipients on his coal gifting list in Jim Klock and Mike Capozzi’s “Slayed” that was released digitally this last month of 2020. The script is penned by Jim Klock following another Klock and Capozzi collaboration, the 2019 released Devil trickery detective-thriller, “Red Letters,” that has the unconventional atmospherics of a Christmas themed slasher set in the fictional location of Harris County, Arizona even though the climate of Arizona is semiarid and “Slayed” appears to be taking place in a lush, semi-tropic climate that’s perhaps more in tune with a Floridian winter. However, production company, Jim Klock and Darrell Martinelli”s Code 3 Films, is based out of New Jersey with offices in Los Angeles, suggesting a summer shoot with the cut off shorts, short sleeves t-shirts, and the wicking sporty running attire being worn amongst the limited primary characters.

Klock not only directs, writes, and produces the serial killer Santa but also co-stars as a new-to-the-area, aspiring actor standing in for a regular security guard. Klock enacts a classic clueless constitution for a baffled and bumbling outsider caught in the middle of historical notoriety having returned from the grave. Standing side-by-side and opposite is co-director, Mike Capozzi, who institutes a doomsday prepper’s fantasy come to fruition as the lone survivor of the 5-year bygone Harris County water plant massacre. The role of a water plant operator turned lone wolf of misanthropy never truly fleshes out of a state of rigid inflexible measures that stagnant the character’s mysterious backstory of surviving Santa’s bloody red-handed carnage and extend his development into an explanation of his long-awaited revenge obsession. Klock and Capozzi only bookend the film being in the same scene together, leaving much of the midsection, essentially the second act, for distressing females as hunting game for Santa’s slay. Coel Mahal and Kyra Kennedy, who have previously worked with Klock and Capozzi on previous projects, adequately fill in those rolls to an extent. Mahal’s masculine bity, water plant administrator acutely shifts into trope slasher-fodder of hapless articles of loosely bound prey. Things worsen with Kyra Kennedy’s rando abductee with an uncontrollably irritating sniveling in unprompted immediate danger as she sits in the passenger seat of a truck and just inconsolably cries, cries, and cries. Luckily, “Slayed” is a indie-reined in production that doesn’t swarm with halfhearted and ill-deserving characters as the film rounds out with minor roles casted to Delton Goodrum, Chuck Roberts, and Jennifer Meakin and Crystal Cameron as half-naked, strung up torture toys for a deranged Kris Kringle.

In a peeve already mentioned, “Slayed” rarely invokes as a Christmas chronicled horror film, striking lukewarm resemblances to that of “Silent Night, Deadly Night” or “Christmas Evil,” to which those films set a very low bar to emulated, unless you’re a trash-loving, so-bad-it’s-good, cult film enthusiastic, like yours truly, than its nothing but top shelf quality. However, the unexplained warm weather upholstery cripples “Slayed’s” genre-blend construct that’s been in august status of next level output over the last few years to dispel the happiest time of year into a certifiable time of fear in an apparent hostile seasonal takeover in a return of spite that Halloween shortens every year with Christmas nipping at the heels as soon as the first brown leaf hits the ground. If the shooting location is truly set in Arizona, winter months typically hover around a light jacket and shorts 60 degrees during the day and nippy 40 degrees at night, but the sweaty, wintery deficient clothing worn suggests a sweltering otherwise. Klock and Capozzi’s good faith effort into “Slayed’s” festive fare is in the garish Holiday decorations and ornamental lighting production design denotes the showy display of Christmas spirit, held in which season is not exactly clear. To speak more on the lighting, Emily Adam, another patron believer of Klock’s work, uses a restrained soft fuchsia lens tint, among other vivid primary colors, to elevate the seasonal veneer and Adam’s lighting is especially a favorable hallmark of the season with the use of the soft, but brilliant glow of Christmas string bulbs utilized to lash and tie up up naughty listers. Yet, up to scratch cinematography can’t fix what’s inherently broken with a story penned as a sequel structure that assumes the audiences’ knowledge of past events when, in fact, leaves viewers in blackout darkness with many questions: Why the Harris County water plant? Where did maniacal Santa go for five years? How did the water plant survivor make it out alive and is now determined to end not only maniacal Santa’s life but also his own? Why did maniacal Santa kidnap this random young lady from her house? What’s the significance of Christmas for maniacal Santa and why this period in time to return? I enjoy Christmas horror as much as the next genre votary but wrapping your head around “Slayed” topples any chance of actually enjoying the disgruntled, menacingly muttering “Ho Ho Ho” catch-phrasing, maniacal Santa terrorizing an unjolly skeleton crew on Christmas Eve night.

Ho Ho Horror! Santa delivers the gift of sufferable tidings and killjoys in the Terror Films distributed “Slayed” digitally only onto Prime Video. If you didn’t catch “Slayed” before Christmas when released on December 18th, then no worries! Quickly nosedive into your laptop or television set and catch Santa axing away on Prime Video today! An interesting tidbit about the crew of “Slayed” comes from the music department with composer Jojo Draven, former guitarists for a number of Las Vegas shows such as performance artists, the Blue Man Group, and Gothic street illusionist, Chris Angel. The Indonesian-American female rocker’s agreeable experimental-industrial sound comes across professionally astute toward the context with unbuckling tension baked right into the scene. There were no bonus material included with the screener nor where there bonus scenes during or after the credits. Instead of racing down the stairs, excited by the prospect of unwrapping that one main horror-inspired Christmas movie on Christmas Day, “Slayed” turns out to be a disappointing hefty lump of coal with a few diamond patches sparkling through the sedimentary rock and catching our eye in a rather humbug holiday horror falling short of that so-bad-its-good set bar.

Watch “Slayed” on Prime Video by clicking the poster!

Flesh Combustible EVIL Ore in “Primal Scream” reviewed! (Dark Force and Code Red / Blu-ray)


In the future of 1993, a privatized and powerful mining corporation is extracting a newfangled element cleaner and more abundant than any other energy source known to mankind, but the element, known as Hellfire, is also the most dangerous as it causing the human body to spontaneously ignite the internal organs in a heap of electro-combustion, searing the body from the inside out. A private detective is hired under the pretense of an affair scandal but becomes intertwined in a power struggle to harness complete control of Hellfire that leads from explosive skirmishes on a mining station on Saturn to the many charred bodies scorched by the unforgiving Hellfire on Earth and the investigator is caught in the middle behind a veil of cloak and dagger criminal conduct, searching for answers and the truth.

A gumshoe narrative with a caustic boost of flesh destroying flair, “Primal Scream” is the 1987 independent science fiction action epic from first time filmmaker William J. Murray and an equally tenderfoot crew buckling down for their inaugural ignition into full-length feature film space. More recently familiar with Murray’s work on the Jersey shore thriller, “Exit 0,” as the director of photography, the writer-director got his big start helming “Primal Scream,” also known originally as “Hellfire,” a planetary, melodramatic perusal also set in New Jersey, shot primarily on location in Atlantic City. The title change from “Hellfire” was the brainchild of the distributor who bought the rights to the film, claiming “Primal Scream” as a more marketable title, but with a name like “Hellfire,” the spaceship models, web of lies, and evil corporations detective story would have garnered an audience. “Primal Scream” is a production financed by a movie theater concession stand franchisee, Howard Foulkrod, looking to be a part of movie-making team.

Before working with Murray in “Exit 0” as a heedful bed and breakfast front desk attendant with a pervading cocksure attitude, New York born Kenneth McGregor first and foremost collaborated with the filmmaker on “Primal Scream” as a washed up police officer turned private dick Corby McHale that became McGregor’s debut lead role in the low-budget sci-fi feat. McGregor could carry the weight on such a profound role that required physicality from a browbeaten scoundrel that could attract young new love as well as re-attract his former affairs. However, I wasn’t especially sold on McHale’s love interest, Samantha Keller, who came off strong toting up a lip-giving and gritty female officer who has history with McHale. Sharon Mason dons the role with her lanky, on the gaunt side, appearance that could have elevated the role in a incongruous, yet positive, light, but Mason withers down to a lovestruck puppy besotted with McHale back in her life, losing that salt of the Earth edge that keeps her sharp in repelling the scum around her as a beat cop. Jon Maurice was a real presence on screen as a weary and angry captain on the force and maintains a mutual respect for his former office and friend, McHale, though doesn’t look it. In his only credited acting role, Maurice has the towering posture of “Dawn of the Dead’s” Ken Foree or “Candyman’s” Tony Todd with a resonating voice, a gospel actor, and compliments McHale’s unkept and insouciant façade. Rounding out the cast is Julie Miller, Stephen Caldwell, Edward N. Fallon, Joseph White, and timeless showman Mickey Shaughnessy in his last performance before death.

I find difficulty in thinking of one single aspect in where “Primal Scream” doesn’t deserve admiration. Do I think “Primal Scream” is a flawless attempt of a gargantuan dystopia of escapism? Not at the least, but for a pressurized, first time director, William Murray, his equally untried crew, and a cast of novice actors, the space ship model and pyrotechnics-laden gumshoe narrative palpitates wildly with tremendous heart for the amount of other intrinsic details that went into the feature, like the video phones and the ultramodern everyday vehicles, that didn’t produce a sensory overload of futuristic adornment and kept a practical milieu of face-to-face gambling bookies (location was set in Atlantic City after all) and ballistic projectile weapons despite a significant advancement in space travel. Hell, there’s even a sleek unrivaled-looking DeLorean in the first moments of the movie as a cherry on top. Granted, “Primal Scream” is set in 1993, nearly a decade outlook from production, and maybe undershot a realistic timeframe for interplanetary mining base construction. Another thing unclear is the story’s plasticity, murkily prefaced with a drop-in climax that is then refocused on the beginnings of Corby McHale’s seemingly diminutive hired involvement that leads to corruptive strife and dislodging of greed for the better of mankind. While trying to maintain a belief in the systemic universe the characters live in, the scenes are told through McHale as noted in the climatic introduction, but there are a few scenes outside that perspective box and don’t make filmic sense to the storytelling core. Ambitiously executed, “Primal Scream” dotes on films, such as “Blade Runner” or “Brazil,” of an Earth dystopian future and challenges us to totally recall our affection for the practical movie making magic.

In what I consider an odd release for Dark Force Entertainment and Code Red, I have to remind myself that William Murray’s “Primal Scream” is an oddity film with rich background and ludicrous-speed potential all around and makes a grand, high-definition Blu-ray debut distributed by MVDVisual. The region free release is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, from a rather preserved source. The picture maintains a stable course throughout with some flare ups of scratches, blemishes, cigarette burns, and omitted frame jumps that were nearly inherent with 35mm productions. Yet, the coloring is excellent and balance with no diluting edge enhancements or cropping. A forced English language DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix is a palpable mix that is clear and unfractured by distortions. There remains a constant, low-toned crackle and hum throughout the approx. 85 minute runtime, almost as if it’s electronic interference, but the mix maintains a par score that offers beveled depth and a resounding range of bombastic explosions and the snap, crackle, pop of skin being corroded and cooked by Hellfire. Special features include an audio a new commentary by director William Murray and crew as well as the same group in a Making of “Primal Scream” featurette “Made A Movie, Lived to Tell,” showcasing current interviews recollecting 30 years ago their experience in making, and surviving, their first movie. Also included is the “Hellfire” 1981 promo reel. “Primal Scream” is more down to Earth than it is pew-pewing in the inky expanse, paralleling the dangers of new and unexplored elements and mining procedures, such as fracking, with a sleuth story rigmarole to save man from not only destroying their corporeal selves, but also destroying their souls from corruption.

Own Primal Scream on Blu-ray today!

The EVILS of the Jersey Shore! “Exit 0” reviewed! (DVD / Breaking Glass Pictures)


A young New York City couple drive down the Jersey Turnpike down to the Jersey Shore for a quaint getaway in the comforts of Cape May’s Doctor’s Inn Bed and Breakfast. With the hopes of rekindling the spark between them, the omission of the fast churning city living will surely become dampened by the island’s off-season quiet that’s more in sync with focusing on each other. However, after a strange incident at a curbside rest stop, something hasn’t felt right. From the odd tenants to the inexplicable occurrences of the Doctor’s Inn, the strain between their recoupling becomes a daunting wedge and when a videotape is discovered in their room, a videotape that shows a grisly murder on the exact spot they sleep in their room, that wedge not only drives deeper between them but also begins to suspend reality and raise paranoia.

Set on location at the Doctor’s Inn Bed and Breakfast of Cape May, New Jersey is the jarringly fear-fostering “Exit 0” that delivers the grim goods on a dead end, spook story skippered by writer-director E.B. Hughes (“Turnabout”) from a story co-writer with Philadelphian native, Gregory Voigt. Being a local Philadelphian suburbanite myself and a patron visitor of Avalon, New Jersey, having “Exit 0” be a horror-thriller that showcases the tremendous historical and Victorian-laden edifices and tourist retreats like the lighthouse on Cape May point is really invigorating to know that any kind of story, whether horror or otherwise, can be tailored into the seams of just about anywhere on this designer planet. Cape May is charming, inviting, and bustling with touristy customers who’ve answered the call from the beach from up and down the East Coast and surrounding inland areas, but during the off-season, the Jersey Shore, as a whole, is a gloomy and desolate barren land that would emit the appearance of invoking an eerily haunting atmosphere. “Exit 0” is also a charming little independent picture, self-produced by Hughes under his production company EBFIlms.

The cast is comprised of mostly locals in the tristate New Jersey, New York, and Philly area, starting off with Gabe Fazio (“Trauma is a Time Machine”) anchoring down Billy in the lead role of the boyfriend reminiscing about when his parents took him to the Doctor’s Inn when very young and being the plagued victim of severe anxiety when things go strangely muddled during his stay. “The Badger Game’s” Augie Duke plays a constant in Billy’s quickly downgrading opaque craziness as the teetering love interest, Lisa, and though typically the foundering relationship could be the heart of the story, but in “Exit 0,” Lisa might be portion of the reason for Billy’s seemingly unhinged fear. Duke’s wonderfully seductive from a distance, blue balling Billy on his wishful romantic long weekend. Billy and Lisa’s chemistry is in a beaker of unknown substance as we’re not really sure where the stand with each other: Billy doesn’t know whether he loves Lisa or not and Lisa keeps Billy at arm’s length while at the same time attempts to engage in Billy’s sexual advances. Hughes highlights often usual and direct characters to round out Billy’s source of burdens, especially with The Writer played by “The Mask’s” Peter Greene. Greene’s method approach plays into his deep ominous eyes and contoured facial features as a mysterious fixture. Federico Castelluccio plays into the latter direct category as the island’s Detective Mueller. The “Midday Demons” actor perhaps provides a character who becomes the only source of sanity not influencing Billy’s instability and Castelluccio courses a hardnose investigator to reach the truth. “Exit 0” fills out with a couple of veterans in Kenneth McGregor (“Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil”) and Daniel O’Shea (“The Rocketeer”).

“Exit 0” will unavoidably not be a hit with most audiences as a salt of the earth kind of psychological thriller bearing no teeth when considering general moviegoer baits, such as lots of gore, action, and skin, but despite the rudimentary building blocks, E.B. Hughes braises shuttering tension inside a compartmentalized configuration that includes a bit of found footage vehemence mixed with some spun Cape May folklore that’ll find regional nepotism amongst from friends and relatives of the cast and the crew and favoritism from the locals and enigma enthusiastic. Another disadvantage against “Exit 0” is more technical in regards to poor sound editing that picks up way to much noise, ambient and static alike, that’ll certainly dissuade some from enjoying the core plot involving triggering suppressed mental illness and eliciting out of the box interpretation of whether or not what Billy experiences are in fact real or just in his piecing imagination.

Embark on a minatory trip to Cape May with E.B. Hughes’ “Exit 0” on DVD Home Video distributed by Philadelphia company Breaking Glass Pictures. The region 1 DVD is presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, with a runtime of 95 minutes. “Exit 0” isn’t a popping color film that limits the ranges to being bleak shades of primary colors that opalescent from scene to scene until we meet The Writer whose basking in a harsh, almost heater like, fluorescent red. These scenes exhibit quite a bit of color banding, noticeably on the walls. Details are moderately soft on times, especially on faces, but there’s plenty of good contour lighting to equalize the effect. The English language dual channel stereo mix initially begins with a rough edit that can’t discern dialogue and backdrop noise audiophiles, making the car ride exchange dampened between Billy and Lisa who are nearly drowned out from the car’s whooshing ambience. Stereophonic sound system feels more mono that can’t grasp the voices and the anxiety riddle milieu that bombard Billy’s crumbling agitation. Dialogue tracks are, for the most part, prominent and can be discerned. Special features include a lengthy and in depth Q and A with director E.B. Hughes, Gabe Fazio, Peter Greene, and Federico Castelluccio, behind the scenes footage, outtakes, a bonus short film “Harsh Light” written and directed by E.B. Hughes about an aging boxer whose career has hit a dead end, and the theatrical trailer. “Exit 0” is abstruse conjecture that mental illness and chilling folklore can be one in the same, depending on one’s subjective perspective, and E.B. Hughes and his anchoring leads masterfully leave open the murky, rheumy wounds for personal contemplation in a hair-raising tale.

Available on DVD at Amazon.com

A Charlatan Who Surrounds Herself With Evil! “Vampz!” Review!


After countless interview screenings, Simone struggles to find a suitable roommate just like herself with an insatiable longing to be one of the undead, specifically, a vampire. As she strikes out applicant-after-applicant, her twin brother Sam persuades her to lock in on Ashlee, a beautiful, yet energetically ditzy cheerleader new to town who shows up late at night looking for a place of her own and with looming rent bills sucking her dry cash, Simone begrudging agrees on the dimwitted and un-vampiric prospect. Unbeknownst to Simone, one of her former screenings turns out to be a coked out vampire hunter and with Simone declaring herself a vampire during the screening, the oblivious and hopped up hunter’s ability to distinguish between the real McCoy and a wannabe has severely disintegrated as he aims to drive a long, wooden stake through her heart, but when the Hunter comes to claim his bounty, he inadvertently teams up with Simone and Ashlee against a tenebrous conspirator with a penchant for control of ghouls and monsters to not only save their lives, but also their friends.

“Vampz!” is the filmic version of a chaptered web series, that found a crowdfunded presence from circa 2012. Much like in the same vain as the “Hell’s Kitty” DVD release, “Vampz!” didn’t partake in any re-imagining, re-shoots, or even a re-cast for the movie; in fact, the so-called 2019 movie, helmed by director Ramsey Attia and scripted by Omar Attia and Lenoard Buccellato, is actually the web series spliced together to construct a 76 minute feature. To maintain comedy integrity that calls for hyperbolic reactions, profanity heavy dialogue, and some really nifty and amusing pop cultural intertwining, like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody dialogue rendition had me biting my smirking lip in assurance, Attia and Buccellato’s script never deviates from course. There’s are also other subtle homages that can be easily identified throughout. Between the TV web series and the film, no cast alterations or implementations have been made and so all of the established humor from the web series is still engrained from the actors and having never seen “Vampz!’ the series, gauging what, if any, soul from the original product is lost in the nearly decade old translation cannot be confirmed, but “Vampz!” has resilient comedic bite, going for both canine fangs into the throat in the face of being an independent picture.

Lilly Lumière at the forefront with her character Simone Castillo, an aspiring bloodsucker in all its fashionably formulaic vampire glory without being the recently bastardized Hollywood version a.k.a. “Twilight” trilogy, becomes the eyeliner nucleus of the story. Lumière presents an eye rolling, goth decked out quasi-vampire with a die hard approach to the banal side of the vampire mythos. Simone becomes the BFF target of Ashlee, who from the depths of the night shows up at her doorstep seeking the room for rent. Ashlee doesn’t seem to be Simone’s type, a high-spirited cheerleader tryout who is new to town; in fact, Ashlee represents all that is distasteful to Simone’s undead facade. Christal Renee has the vivacious personality type to pull the give me a S-U-P-E-R hyped Ashlee! Then there is Denis Ark as psychotic vampire hunter Marcus Denning. Ark is not just certifiable on screen, but he’s also certified off screen as a personal fitness trainer. With 20+ years in martial arts and sports training, Ark tackles the moderately physical role with ease and provides some point blank comedy. “Vampz!” remaining cast of misfits include Louis Rocky Bacigalupo, Guy N. Ease, and Cliff Hunter.

Shot in Peterson, New Jersey, “Vampz!” has a very Jersey feel, not to be confused with having an Italian Jersey Shore feel, despite being just a hop, skip, and a jump across the water from New York and even with that chip on the shoulder emanating from off of the screen and on the penny-pinching, crowd funded budget, the web series is without a doubt well done. The humor is touch and go with some misguided antiquation, but the effects capitalizes over that portion of content, especially when a creature or two appear for their grand entrance into the storyline. “Vampz!” has solid special effects working heavily to lead the charge into turning what could have been ho-hum film into a quasi engaging creature feature that deviates from the staggering conventionalism and genre tropes.

MVDVisual and Ruthless Studios sinks their teeth into the A Rear Naked Studios Production of “Vampz!” releasing the Ramsey Attia horror-comedy onto DVD home video in its full web series storyline. Presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ration, the region free disc picture doesn’t provide a flavorful presentation. Attia and his team went faux grindhouse approach by adding grain and “missing scenes” on a pseudo-polyester film base, but the film looks washed and uninviting with droll hues. The English language dual-channel stereo track lies above the fray image with ample range of ambient sounds and a prominent dialogue track. Depth hardly comes through with most of the ambient remaining on a level plane that doesn’t resonate elsewhere from between outside and inside the finale factory or in between room-to-room. There are no bonus features included on this DVD that has curious cover art. Front cover pictures a badly photoshopped composition of a short red haired woman wearing an boxy amulet overtop a cutoff top and drinking blood out of a martini glass with a plastic straw. There’s also a white snake wreathed around the V and A of “Vampz!” and the same snake is also wrapped around the shoulders of a silhouette figure on the back cover but there are no snakes in this film, nor is there an high class, red-headed vampires drinking blood out of a martini glass so the cover is misleading. “Vampz!” garnishes heart and soul of the modern classic horror creature while adding a cascading charm of moderate-to-light hearted comedy to mask the rough edges of a home grown brew grindhouse film thats bemusing to perceive from a deceptively cheap DVD cover art.

Click DVD cover to Purchase “Vampz!”

A Video Diary of Evil. “The Death of April” review!

vlcsnap-2015-11-01-20h36m18s179
Megan Mullen, freshly out of college life, feels a strong urge to pick up and move from her comfortable California family home to the new surroundings of New Jersey. She can’t explain her why to move, but she quickly finds an apartment in East Rutherford where she settles in easily, creates a video journal for her friends and family back home, begins her new job as a school teacher, and gains a wonderful boyfriend. Everything seems to be going perfect for Megan until unexplainable, seemingly paranormal, acts happen in her apartment: doors open and close mysteriously, objects move on their own, and her soul doesn’t feel like her own. As she continues to her video journal, she further believes her apartment was once rented by April, a young girl similar to Megan who ended up brutally murdered and found on a riverbank, and that she is haunting her. This is Megan’s story told through a documentary revealed by her friends and family to the supernatural speculation of what causes Megan’s torment and downfall.
vlcsnap-2015-11-01-20h38m52s189
In the spirit of new releases on or around horror’s big night of Halloween, Director Ruben Rodriquez’s 2012 paranormal mockumenatry “The Death of April” comes to life on for the first time on DVD from MVDVisual. Similar to the “Paranormal Activity” series, the pseudo documentary about a dangerous, abode dwelling spirit or spirits bombarding their supernatural havoc upon helpless inhabitants. While the release time is appropriate and has a modest appreciation for creepy atmospheres, “The Death of April” fails to bring something new to the genre table and I can’t see the easily overlooked “The Death of April” being the catalyst to spark more interest in a ghostly genre that becomes overpopulated, by the major studios, during the month of October.
vlcsnap-2015-11-01-20h36m37s116
Backed finically by the Mojo Creative Group that was founded by Ruben Rodriguez, the mockumentary introduces a modest talent of actors and actresses including Katarina Hughes as Megan Mullen. Hughes, in her first feature film, delivers the much needed energy to a slow, stagnant script, but the contrast exaggerates Katarina’s overzealous happy-new-girl-moving-to-a-different-coast attitude. Her co-stars Adam Lowder as her brother Stephen Mullen, The Knick’s Chelsea Clark as her best friend, RayMartell Moore as her boyfriend Tim, and Stephanie Domini as her mother, who by the way looks almost the same age as Megan, sold their story, their take, of Megan’s downward events. That being said, Lowder, Clark, Moore, and Domini couldn’t lift the script out of the deep trenches of the uninteresting and mechanical motions.
vlcsnap-2015-11-01-20h39m41s165
The script, which was also written by Ruben Rodriguez, could be considered to contain two interpretations, one literal and the other more concealed. The more literal interpretation is my least favorite of the two. Megan’s family constantly disowns the fact that she might actually be haunted by an apartment spirit; in fact, her family and friends negatively pelt her with denials and accusations, never once considering Megan’s theories of an aggressive April spirit. This is where the script becomes redundant as Megan’s brother Stephen and also her mother Stephanie reiterate over and over about how close their relationship with Megan was and how she had firm family roots in California and also proclaim the excuses of how she’s looking for attention or not coping with a new surrounding very well. Rodriguez’s script suffers by not displaying alternate ways in exploring how her family and friends should handle Megan’s paranoia or paranormal problem. Even when they’re is undeniable video proof with the video starting to distort and capturing uncontrollable movements from inanimate objects, nobody believes Megan and that would drive anybody to the loony bin. The second interpretation with, perhaps, a more underlying metaphor is that Megan is slowly going nuts. Her brother Stephen does mention her previous slightly creepy issues with Megan before her big impulsive move to the east coast. Almost like her impulsiveness and her energy-filled antics seemed manic and her sanity practically dissolved when she moved thousands of miles away from her support group in California. Megan’s mind could have invented April and her family, knowing that she’s had weird issues in the past, chalks this up to just being another mental issue. Of course, the video diary proof, even with her brother and friend witnesses, nearly excludes the second theory and that her “desire” to move far away from her family stems from April pulling her in that direction.
vlcsnap-2015-11-01-20h39m10s111
“The Death of April” won’t make waves on the PKE meter. The picture quality of the MVDVisual and ITN distribution DVD release looks clean considering that most scenes had intentional video quality posterization and distortion for the web and home video diary appearance. The front cover art is slightly misleading with a foreboding, rundown gothic style house in the background when actually Megan lives in a sectioned off duplex apartment in a suburban neighbor of a New Jersey home that doesn’t look necessarily evil at all. Also, who I’m guessing is spirit of April on the front cover with a Ouija board in her clutches sports sexy booty denim shorts as if to lure a certain audience to the release. We’re not sold on “The Death of April” as too many before it’s time have come across and planted their seed and sprouted firm in place.