Even After Death, EVIL Fathers Can Still Be Punitive! “Daddy” reviewed! (SRS Cinema / DVD)

Come to “Daddy” now on DVD at Amazon.com

In a small lakeside, mountain town, a violent rape of a young woman paralyzes her into complete shock, shutting down her power to speak, and spiraling her into a withdraw.  Newly appointed Sheriff Sylvia Carlsen has a personal stake in the case as the woman is a close and dear childhood friend.  The nature of the rape puzzles law enforcement and frightens the small community after evidence of soil and worms are discovered around the scene of the crime and inside the victim.  When another of her close friends is violently rape the same way, Carlsen’s painful recollection of a dark secret involving her and her friends reagitates a dormant fear and familiarities between her past and the rapes appear to me more than just coincidences.  As the attacks continue, the toll on her mounds and a series of erratic behavior incidents put into question her judgement but that won’t stop her digging into her own case of issues.

Have you ever come across a zombie revenge thriller where the decomposing undead, recently fresh from a risen unmarked grave, stuck his worm (no, that isn’t an euphemism) into a hapless female victim?  While not explicitly depicted in what sounds like a niche fetish of the subfloor adult film industry, the image of soil and creepy crawlers inside the vaginal cavity is very real in director Michael P. DiPaolo’s “Daddy” where daddy issues can be extremely violating and gruesomely decaying all in the same rotten breath.  The “Requiem for a Whore” and “Transgression” filmmaker writes and directs the 2003 SOV-shot style, back from the grave indie production, at one point in time was called under the working title of “Rigor Mortis,” hailing from the Albany proximate Averill Park, New York and was self-funded and produced by DiPaolo and Christopher K. Philippo (“Motor Home Massacre”) under DiPaolo’s production label, Black Cat Cinema.

The actresses to be symbolically lubricated with the Earth’s muck are played by four friends, who just happen to be all blonde as if blondes run together like a pack of wino Golden Retrievers. In her first feature film, not a television role, is principal blonde number one Selia Hansen as the frequently boozing, causal sex engaging, newly appointed sheriff, Sylvia Carlsen. Hansen plays the hot-headed Sheriff eager to prove herself but is shredded emotionally by the violent sexual assault against her friends – Leslie (Katherine Petty), Jamie (Cynthia Polakovich, “Date with a Vampire”), and Allison (Bevin McGraw, “Arachnid”). Other than BFF Leslie, there isn’t too much discourse between the good friends and if is conversing between them, the topic of conversation is about the rapes, leaving the groups’ tightly knit friendship barely tethered to Carlsen’s burdened shoulders. Ravaging the community’s blond population is the titular rapist and to avoid obvious spoilers, I will refrain from divulging the attacker’s reason for stalking Sheriff Carlsen and her male unaccompanied friends. In what is perhaps the biggest role of his scarcely career, Aaron Renning lurks around like deviant, tongue-wagging Uncle Fester complete with chrome dome and a dirty dinner jacket grimed with earth and wiggly worms. Renning’s performance has it easy with zip for dialogue and a penchant for being a raving manic with a libido in hyperdrive. The performance bares no crass crudeness as it’s very to the point without revealing the point – if you get my point. Actors following up from Michael P. DiPaolo’s “Transgression” is David Shepherd as the town’s Doctor Vance and Marc St. Camille as the pushover Deputy Richie Dagg. Yet, the most interesting casted member is John Karyus. The “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead” to “Big Freaking Rat” B-horror Karyus plays the Sheriff’s ex-husband who’s always peeping and is eager to inform his ex-wife something important but doesn’t ever receive the chance to, marking his scenes utterly pointless.

“Daddy” issues is right. DiPaolo strikes up grave retribution with a zombie degenerate harboring a message, one that I can only hope is accurate, is suppressed emotional trauma can be haunting, if not deadly, when not dealt with its beleaguering demons. However, “Daddy’s” undercurrent is more grossly sweeping and pungent with corrosive, misguided outcomes. Instead of battling trauma, DiPaolo’s depiction of Carlsen’s alcoholic abuse and fleeting affairs coupled with nightmares of the past also speaks illy toward guilt and feeling guilty over an irreversible criminal act done for the right reasons, in self-defense, nonetheless, sets the wrong tone. The finale also doesn’t set well with the fact that DiPaolo inflicts no escape from one’s rapist, no comfort in the knowledge of their death, and that their lives hang in the very balance, targeted by a demented vision. Demented, that’s definitely how I would describe DiPaolo’s serial rapist zombie flick that’s not terribly terrifying as it is one’s twisted filmic folly into incest and inevitable topple of repossession of oneself. “Daddy’s” acting is often stiff and forced, on the cheap effects offer up fake and live worms and a gray palette zombie perv, and the handheld SOV-style camera work from DiPaolo himself is like a fly buzzing around the room at times. “Daddy’s” beyond the dead vindictive nature is only abated by the number of topless blondes being subjected to dry humping in this ill-judged, undead-to-bed fiasco.

Of course, it only makes sense that SRS Cinema would release something to the likes of “Daddy” onto DVD home video. SRS Cinema loves nearly everything shot-on-video, nihilistic, zany, and unconscionable content. Sex and death sells and SRS Cinema has a long history of delivering good on that brand of promise while also luring unsuspected victims, I mean viewers, with exceptional retro-cover art that’s vibrant and detailed in all things macabre. The region free DVD has an aspect ratio of 4:3 and a runtime of 83-minutes. Shot with a videotape camcorder, image quality is about what you expect with an immense amount of interference during night shots and compression artefact issues rampant throughout, especially during black and white flashbacks, but the image is essentially discernible which makes DiPaolo’s use of only natural light more impressive. The English language mono track is hit-or-miss depending on the camcorder’s mic placement with faded hissing to throw another curve back at you. There are moments when the ambience is exquisitely sharp in fidelity and edit, such as the blaring police siren or a car suddenly passing into frame for jump scare effect. Bonus features include a commentary track with Michael P. DiPaolo, a behind-the-scenes featurette with DiPaolo narrating upon how he accomplished more of the difficult and complicated scenes, the feature trailer, and SRS film trailers. Interesting concept piledriven by its creepy subtext, “Daddy” continues to be aversive with a tagline “He comes after bad little girls!” splayed on the front cover that leaves cringed induced wrinkles on my face every time I cerebrate the underground film. In the same breath, I know and love SRS Cinema’s unwavering nihilism, standing admirably behind Michael DiPoalo’s incestuous and rapey, unfatherly film without second guessing commitment.

Come to “Daddy” now on DVD at Amazon.com

There’s EVIL in the Saying, No Other Choice. “Violation” reviewed! (Acorn Media International / Blu-ray)



On the precipice of her loveless marriage ending, Miriam and her not-quite-yet estranged husband getaway to visit her sister, Greta, and husband, Dylan, at their quiet woodland and lakeside home, an area where Miriam and Greta fondly grew up together.  Also sharing a past together as high school friends, Miriam and Dylan enjoy each other’s company in a playful and quipping manner after a lifelong friendship, but after a night of drinking and an outpour of internalized emotions, Miriam slowly awakes to Dylan forcing his way inside her and is unable to stop him.  Confronting Dylan and Greta separately further strains the tense situation to the point that Miriam is made out to be the villain in her own sexual assault, sending Miriam to plot a thorough premediated revenge to not only avenge herself but also to save her sister still married to her attacker. 

Real hands-and-knees puked vomit splattering over a black tarp.  A blindfolded, naked man tied to a chair with a real erect penis saluting tall.  If you’ve never seen this Shudder exclusive 2020 released film and you’re reading this review opening fresh eyed, you might automatically presume Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer’s “Violation” a work of pure vomit gore and BDSM pornography.   Let me quickly put your mind at ease by saying “Violation” is nothing of the sort, but these unmistakable aspects in the Canadian revenge drama are real and explicit as a deep-seeded personal choice for the writing and directing duo’s first feature length project.  Mancinelli and Sims-Fewer’s collaborated history goes back to 2017 as they together write, direct, and produce a handful of short films with a core base of dysfunctional sexual themes in “Slap Happy,” “Woman in Stall,” and “Chubby,” to name a few in their credits.  “Violation” continues the trend, providing cathartic discussion for the filmmakers’ tabooed motif at an attempt at bold realism.  “Violation” is self-produced by Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli under their production banner, the Toronto-based DM Films, in association with Telefilm Canada and The Talent Fund with financing from the executive producer line of independents, such as François Dagenais (“Ankle Biters”), and the husband-wife duo of David Hamilton and Deepa Mehta of Hamilton-Mehta Productions.

In the lead of Miriam is the writer, director, and producer herself, Madeleine Sims-Fewer, succumbing to a characterized funneling toward piteous rock bottom within her role who, from the get-go, is already in hot water with a dissatisfied husband about their trip to see Miriam’s sister. There’s rarely any happiness for Miriam throughout, even amongst the contentious heart-to-hearts with her own sister, and the little designated of joy to her is quickly squashed by the narrative’s crux and then that’s when Sims-Fewer has to about face to a deeper austere level than even before when those closest to Miriam push her away and become her worst enemies in a blink of an eye. Those mercurial enemies are played by Anna Maguire as Miriam’s fickle younger sister Greta, reteaming with her “Forgotten Man” costar Obi Abili as Miriam’s distant husband Caleb and rounding out the cast as Miriam’s alleged rapist and Greta’s husband Dylan is Jesse LaVercombe who also previously worked on the directors’ short films “Slap Happy” and “Chubby.”  Sims-Fewer and Lavercombe really deserve praise for their dedication and courage that circles back to the beginning of this review about real puke and real erection.  There’s vulnerability when totally exposed and these two actors, who have tremendous chemistry, shy very little away from the uncomfortable provocations in hard to swallow scenes of realism.  We also know where Greta stands in the whole scheme of things, but a big plot hole obtrudes with Obi Abili’s Caleb who unexplainably vanishes in the latter half of the two part narrative.  There’s an unsaid presumption that Caleb left Miriam as already rocky marriage kept spiraling down the toilet in the first act, but there was no resolution, leaving the character out in the wind and neglected from the what could have been an interesting interplay of Miriam’s obsessive plot.

“Violation” is not the typical rape-revenge thriller where the victim rises from the ashes like a phoenix and has an insurmountable, if not endless, amount of hate and determination for street justice to see their rapist or rapists six feet under.  “Violation’s” slow burn method leans toward a character study with Miriam.  Her compassionate human side commingles with her victimized treatment and anger as she’s constantly and consistently second guessing her actions or feeling the utmost, sick-to-her-stomach remorse for her actions that needed to be done in order to avenge herself and also protect her sister as noted in a parallel dream she tells Greta about Miriam sitting in the next room while her sister is unintentionally self-strangulating.  Yet, another side to this tale that could also explain Miriam’s hesitancy and, perhaps, guilt.  Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli are very explicit in Miriam’s unhappiness with her marriage and also her flirtatious wanting of Dylan, pent up by the lack of sex and joy in her marriage, and she also initiates a kiss with Dylan.  Combine those details with a night of drinking, Dylan’s firm stance, and the way the film is shot ambiguously, a pressure cooker moment builds between the characters and viewers whether what stated happened actually happened.  Now, I’m not arguing a case for rape culture or make excuses for rapists, but “Violation” tilts toward Miriam’s mental quality that has been compromised by a contentious marriage, life envy, and the preconceived notion that she’s not a good person.  Either way, what follows the inconspicuous moment is sharply horrible, a real unsettling exhibition of meaningful art. 

“Violation” is certifiably fresh and deservingly so with jarring scenes of gruesomeness, a topical theme of trivializing rape accusations, and compelling character study of one woman’s disharmonious existence in her small inner bubble.  Now, you can own it the Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli film on UK Blu-ray from Acorn Media International. The PAL encoded, region 2 Blu-ray presents the film in 1080p full high definition in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2:39:1. “Violation” embodies an engulfing nature domination of the screen through an Adam Crosby lens. No matter how big and important the moment may be in the story, Crosby’s entrancing us with the tiny embers with a close up of the camp fire or having the actors dwarfed by towering trees until the second act that compartmentalizes two antagonistic characters in the same room. The release shows no signs of deflating Crosby’s and the filmmakers’ semi-surreal, flora and fauna vision with a sleek digital recording teeming with a range of wide landscape shots, stark long shots, and super closeups. The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound captures as snap, crackle, and pop of the great outdoors; however, the dialogue, though quite clean and clearly audible, sounds a bit boxy at times. Special feature include two extras that are essentially one and the same taking up double the space on BD25 with a meet the filmmakers (Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli) talk very briefly about the genesis of the “Violation.” The second extra, the TIFF Intro, mirrors nearly world-for-world the first special feature. “Violation” has a runtime of 108 minutes and is rated 18 in the UK for strong violence, gore, sexual violence, sex references, and nudity. Viscerally intimate and ghastly, “Violation” is labeled the anti-rape revenge narrative with a close examination of trust and the unfortunate triviality of rape sure to churn stomachs and second guess the intentions of those close to you.

Own “Violation” on Blu-ray Home Video!