Evil Never Breaks, But Your Mind Will! “The ID” review

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-01-35-pm
Feeling trapped inside her own childhood home, middle-aged Meredith Lane is stuck caring for her elderly and abusive father. Unable to live a life of her own beyond the house’s closing-in walls, Meredith uses her memories of her youth to create a world toward which she can escape. A world involving past loves, spinning them into what could have been, but as the years slip by and her youth fades in stasis, hope for a normal way of life seeps from her grasp…the same with reality. Meredith continues to humor her father’s oppressively verbal and physical mistreatment, sacrificing to his everlasting grip and blackmailed for when she tries to stand up for herself. When her judgement finally breaks down from complete desolation, the lines blur between what’s fantasy and what’s real. When a routine delivery woman starts to suspect Meredith’s instability in the midst of her father’s abrupt absence, Meredith’s real and fantastical world begins to crumble under the first, fine line cracks of psychosis.
screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-00-40-pm
“The ID” is a 2015 psychological narrative thriller from the “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” and “His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th” documentarian producer Thommy Hutson. To keep with the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” theme, Amanda Wyss, who portrays Tina in the original Wes Craven film, headlines as the lonely and disturbed Meredith Lane, the sole caretaker of her limit pushing father, played unnervingly by an unkempt and unsympathetic Patrick Peduto. Initially, you have to compassionately feel for Meredith’s situation as her father, whether intentionally or not, absolutely tortures and demeans her to the fullest extent, but when getting down to the brass tax, Meredith has always held her father’s life in her hands. All she needs to do is act.
screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-01-12-pm
When Meredith’s quasi-levelness with reality is finally pushed over the brink, she does act, snapping toward a tone setting second half of the story that’s arguably more disturbing than her combative relationship between Meredith and her father. “The ID” morphs into full blown psychological horror and, not that Hutson’s film wasn’t a terror of the mind before, Meredith completely crosses that thick defined line between her father and her gentlemen caller from the past. These opposition of two worlds are in the beginning stages of a collision in which both can’t exist in the same space that’s familiar to a presentist perspective. Huston works diligently to deliver the inner workings of Meredith’s psyche, lingering her father’s vocal presence throughout the story even if his physical form vacates, and merging her wondrous past into an antagonistic present.
screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-00-58-pm
Amanda Wyss has a multifaceted performance that shouldn’t go without stating and Wyss should be praised for her representation of suffering from a delusional mental disorder, originating either from a family history, in this case her father’s state is quite the example, or from other external influences. Both factors could have contributed and Wyss’ precision in the character makes the result difficult to split the two possible origins for her breakdown. Wyss’s performance becomes overshadowed only by the fierce acting by Patrick Peduto, creating an uncomfortable hostile interaction that’s so alien to a father and daughter relationship, it should be illegal. There’s a lot of hate, disgust, regret, shame, and mistrust from Peduto’s character that one can certainly assume Meredith’s father is a few cards short of a full deck and Meredith’s intentions could have been absolutely sane. Only one character wasn’t impressive in the whole ordeal lies with Tricia played by Jamye Grant. The delivery care character felt overwritten to be the catalyst; her obsessiveness for Meredith and her father, as she notes getting close to the couple, felt right up there at stalker level with unnecessary cause and effect to bring Meredith in more trouble than she’s already in. Grant did what should could to absolve the character from being obscenely forthright, but Tricia’s unable to pull back just enough to allow comfortable separation of a concerned citizen.
screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-01-22-pm
CAV Releasing’s of the 87 minute runtime Blu-ray of “The ID” from the production companies Ranch Media and Panic Ventures is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio on a single BD-25 disc. The presentation doesn’t spin much of a colorful offering that’s slightly dull without a pop or a splash of vivid hues sans the split psychosis scenes that are hefty in blue while overly exposed. Prevalent details are far more unusually blotchy, glossy, and scattered under the lower bitrate encoding that isn’t necessarily noticeable because of the setting being isolated to just Meredith’s childhood home. “The ID” isn’t an action heavy or scenic riddled film that requires much detail. Under the Dolby Digital 5.0 mix, a fair amount of unmistakable clarity and range emits fully through each channel with solid LFE and balanced tracks to level out the video quality woes. An option for a LPCM 2.0 is also available. Plentiful bonus features include a feature length commentary with director Thommy Hutson and star Amanda Wyss, an interview featurette entitled Needs, Wants, & Desires, intercut behind-the-scenes segment, alternate and deleted scenes, audition footage, and official stills and trailer. Thommy Hutson’s “The ID” is far from his usually schtick of horror documentaries, but clearly showcases the director’s talents within the psychological horror subgenre and will be the building blocks of his narrative directorial career.

“The ID” on Blu-ray. It’s cheap psychological horror!

Mountain Hag Gets Evil! “Girl in Woods” review!

Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 8.46.38 PM
Vividly haunted by the nightmares of her childhood, Grace Walker struggles with recouping from the brutal suicidal death of her father that has plagued her into adulthood.  Her boyfriend Jim plans a romantic getaway for just the two them in the remote region of the Smokey Mountains.  After a horrific accident fatally strikes down Jim, Grace is alone and lost in the thicket without her coping medication and without a basic knowledge of survival skills.  Battling with starvation, unequipped with survival supplies, and besieged with a mental breakdown, Grace combats against her inner and outer demons in order to stay alive.
Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 8.43.51 PM
Eight years have passed since writer-director Jeremy Benson’s last film, the carnal exploitive “Live Animals,” and the filmmaker comes back strong with the upcoming deeply psychological horror “Girl in Woods.”  While the title seems unoriginally simple, the character Grace is anything but simple; however, primitive is a more suitable description of both title and character in the end.  Benson sets up the character by writing Grace as a woodsy no-nothing on the brink of insanity.  As Grace hikes behind Jim, whose carrying a rifle, she’s complaining about the possible dangers of bears and snakes while attempting to use her pink incased cellphone in a kill signal area to gossip about Jim’s engagement proposal the night before.  Immediately, Benson places an unstable, and the creature of comfort, Grace into panic and peril, the starting line of her laundry list of troubles.  From then on, the director relentlessly pounds Grace with hallucinations set within the Tennessee backwoods, torturing her from the mind with mental deterioration stemmed by hunger and onset psychosis to her body with physical pain from a deep gash wound in her hand.
Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 8.45.20 PM
And who is this actress to which Benson mercilessly puts through the meat grinder?  Veteran actress Juliet Reeves (“Automaton Transfusion”) fills Grace’s disturbed shoes with a formidable solo performance for much of the duration.  The then 36 year old actress was pregnant with her second child during various filming shoots.  The father of the child is with none other than her co-star, now husband, Jeremy London (“Alien Opponent”) who portrays Jim.  Reeves is able to maintain a convincing lunatic lost in the woods despite the non-liner storyline where dream sequences and, supposedly, flashbacks intercut to build upon Grace’s tragic and unfortunate background.  Reeves commits herself to the stages of psychosis, slowly transforming from a manageable, calm medicated state to severely severing all ties from external reality.  Even when performing with her angel and devil conscious in the form of herself, Reeves doesn’t flinch, fashioning a frightening internal dynamic that’s damn realistic.
Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 8.40.07 PM
“Girl in Woods” ultimately becomes a collaboration between the subgenres of psychological horror and man versus nature.  Benson’s story explores the possibilities of what might happen if a mental case like Grace is put into a dire predicament and the non-linear narrative simultaneously attempts to display how Grace is destined to be molded.  Interestingly enough as a tidbit of analytical comparisons, “Girl in Woods” marginally parallels with a few popular scenes from the 1987 John McTiernan film “Predator.”  When Mac, played by Bill Duke, chases down the extraterrestrial game hunter, he notes to Carl Weather’s Dillion, whispering, “I see you” toward the cloaked alien, which feels similar to when Grace spots the forest “demon” and chases after it, yelling, “I saw you” over and over.  Other scenes sport the same similar inkling from Grace whittling makeshift weapons to going full blown guerilla attack commando on the “demon,” who oddly enough also makes similar vocal  gutturals like the Predator.
Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 8.46.00 PM
As far as production value is concerned, “Girl in Woods” has an ambitious approach with a infinitely engulfing forest that lurks like an antagonistic villain and an in-your-face motif of self-inflicted suicides that’s extremely graphic and hard to absorb with the brain-splattering, wrist-slashing overdose potency.  The CGI is kept at a minimum, but have one hell of a nasty bite that spurs the heart to a sudden pounding.  The practical effects reign supreme over CGI and within the confines of a warped mind, the possibilities are endless and Benson exploits the potentials.  Overall, fine performances by the rest of the cast:  Jeremy London, John Still (“Live Animals”), Lee Perkins (Slime City Massacre), and the stunning Charisma Carpenter (“Angel” television series) as Grace’s mother.

Produced by GIW in association with Yield Entertainment and distributed by Candy Factory Films, “Girl in Woods” is an upcoming film you don’t want to skip over.  Jeremy Benson has the talented eye of capture beauty within the horror and has the talented pen to wield craziness on paper.  I’m not at liberty to critique the audio and video quality as I was provided an online screener, but “Girl in Woods” is being released on iTunes, VOD, DirectTV, Cable, Dish, Amazon Instant, Google Play, and Vudu so there are plenty of formats to choose from on June 3rd.