Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Credo (aka The Devil's Curse 2008)

Now this is how it's done right, folks. Toni Harman's low-budget supernatural thriller Credo, released in the US as The Devil's Curse, hits home. I watched this flick after watching Seance and was amazed at the contrast between 'em despite many similarities. Filmed on what I assume are comparable budgets with faintly similar plots, Credo is decidedly the better of the two.

Alice (the gorgeous MyAnna Buring) and her friends find themselves homeless after Jock's (Clayton Watson) last party finally irritates the landlord to the point of eviction. With a final exam looming, Alice is desperate enough to accept Jock's offer to house them all for the weekend at an abandoned seminary courtesy of a security guard friend. With tech-geek Scott (Mark Joseph), party girl Jazz (Rhea Bailey) and forlorn Timmy (Nathalie Pownall) in tow, the group settles in to the decrepit digs. Unfortunately for them, this is a home with a past. Specifically, several previous tenants committed suicide after slapdash demon summoning ritual.

I know, sounds uninspired right? Not in the least! Alex Wakeford's script is tight, with characters having depth. The underlying religious subtext adds to the story without beating you over the head. Toni Harman's direction is fast with nary a wasted moment of storytelling. The cast can act and draw the viewer in. The location is subtly unnerving (members of the cast and crew actually thought it haunted) and has a grimy feel that is a bit eerie. Gore is restrained without losing impact.

So, anything fail with Credo? One minor quibble concerns the character of Jock, the lone American among British friends. Clayton Watson plays Jock as a "typical" oversexed Yank with no apparent payoff. I have to wonder if Alex Wakeford wrote Jock as a minor snub as there was no point to his nationality. Oh well, if Watson wants to play American characters he should spend a bit more time with an speech coach.

So, the Toolshed likes Credo and is looking forward to Toni Harman's next horror outing.

Toolshed rating: 8 of 10 dilapidated seminaries

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seance (2006)

Okay, the Toolshed is back. No big whoop. Just got the fever again. Who knows how long it will last this time? A few changes are in order; the Toolshed is gonna slack off on the fiction department as I just don't have the time to read and compose a review for a three or four hundred page novel. Good or bad, most fiction deserves at least two thorough readings before I can comment and I just can't hack that. That is not to say that I won't recommend a title occasionally that I've read. I'm just not going to specifically read a book for review, mkay?

Anywho, a friend asked my opinion of Seance (2006) and I figured why not put it out on Teh Interwebz for the loyal minions of the Toolshed. First, the synopsis:

Lauren (Kandis Erikson) has a little ghost problem. Literally. She has nightmare about a little girl (Bridget Shergalis) haunting her dorm room. So, over the course of a holiday weekend, she and a few friends (Tori White, Chauntal Lewis, Joel Geist and A.J. Lamas) decide to hold a seance to find out what the li'l spectre wants. Unfortunately, the group raise more than just the little girl; they also summon the little girl's murderer(Adrian Paul). Now trapped in the almost empty dorm, can they dispel the decidedly evil force they've brought forth?

Well, let's break it down Spaghetti Western style with the good, the bad and the ugly, shall we?

The good: Hey, college students played by age appropriate actors? That's pretty cool to see. I don't know what the budget for Seance was (somewhere south of six digits. Way south.) but the acting wasn't too terrible. Not much here for skin hounds but the Krazy Kampus Krew are attractive enough.

The bad: The musical score. A certain childhood tune repeated ad nauseum ( isn't public domain wonderful?). The makeup effects were a little too amateur even for such a low budget flick.

The ugly: The script by writer/director Mark L. Smith was exceptionally formulaic. Even a casual viewer of the genre knows the same old plot beats are coming before the end of Act 1. The dialogue sounded fairly forced and character development is pretty much nil. The movie ends before the viewer finds much interest invested in anyone on screen. Plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. However all this pales before the worst of Seance's failings.

It just isn't scary. No tension is generated at all in the 90 minutes of screen time. Seance is boring. And boring just don't cut it.

Toolshed rating: 2 out of 10 spooky candles.