Spoiler Alert Defined: As I do not believe in spoiling anyone’s good time, my film reviews reveal nothing that cannot already be seen by viewing the motion picture’s original theatrical trailer.
“Z, O, Z, O, Z, O, Z, O, Z, O, Z, O, Z, O.”
The opening scene of the motion picture is truly quite wicked. A girl, maniacal laughing, spastic convulsions; this actually gave me chills. Not everything else quite lives up to it. Joe Silver once said something to the extent that if you have an opening scene that is beyond amazing, almost too good, you had better have another somewhere else in the film. Someone needed to tell writer/director Scott Di Lalla this. And after what directly followed that scene, cause me to have initial discomfort with the movie. The first three cinematography choices were wholly confusing and completely out of place, going from found footage, to documentary, to even the feeling of a stalker POV, all in the first six minutes… After that, it turns into a normal feature. Still, the stedicam is never steady.
When the actual story begins, it doesn’t take long to set the scene. Truthfully, it is summed up in exactly 44 seconds via a voice over phone call between our leading lady Tess (Kelly McLaren) and her good friend Aiden (Demetrius Sager). It goes as follows: A party weekend slash island getaway is planned. Friends will attend. It will be Halloween. There will be a Wiccan!
Life settles down and there are five friends total. There’s a catch, the electricity is down at the cabin when they arrive, leaving everything done by way of candlelight. Soon, as with every wholesome party, someone ruins all the fun by breaking out the old Ouija Board.
After a few failed attempts, first ghost being gibberish, second ghost being horrible speller, the messages from Ouija Board become clearer and clearer and this is how the writer/director inserts believability, by gradually dissolving doubt. The film then tries to milk tension by taking at least a few minutes to investigate a strange noise, and this pays off setting up the next scene: The big reveal, the one and only, self-proclaimed, the ZoZo.
Off the top of my head, this is the coolest movie I have ever seen about a Ouija board. And though the writing of this flick is suspiciously grounded at times, it fails and falls utterly flat on others. I will say the grain on this film is so unbelievably splendid, that at times, I thought I was watching a genuine shitty flick from the seventies. I really wanted to love this film, actually love this film, as it started getting beyond creepy roughly forty minutes in. However, this hastily loses momentum due to lack of anywhere to take the story other than a failed rendition of Hitchcock’s theory with never revealing all of the killer till the end, taken a step way too far. Take it or leave it. This picture is not the best, but it is certainly better than most micro-budget direct-to-video releases. And I’m sure it’s at least three times better than what other reviews are saying, whatever that means. I would give it my full-fledged encouragement, but I just cannot shake how abruptly the ending arrives, leaving me wanting more, or something else.
Shot with a Canon 1014XLS on Negative Format 8 mm Kodak Vision3 film. I am now officially a fan of this camera and film type. What the filmmakers chose to do with it is another story. If nothing else, it does take talent to shoot with 8 mm, as you have to change the reel close every two and a half minutes. I should note that this film won Best Feature and received the Audience Choice Award at the 2012 US Super 8 Film Festival. A fault I noticed right away with the sound… was the sound. They should have dampened it through a few programs at the lab before going to print. A recording with an old desktop recorder would’ve had a stronger effect. The sound is just too clear for all the luscious grain on the screen, plus I think the boom operator held the mic too close at times. I’m glad though that I caught this on DVD and that Image Entertainment didn’t produce a Blu-ray release. This film doesn’t belong anywhere near that technology, it really belongs on VHS, maybe even a step further back.
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette: The Producer and Director discuss how they came across the idea, rehearsing techniques, problems shooting with 8 mm rather than Digital and difficulties with making a first narrative feature, instead of their usual documentaries. They also confess that the owner of the house/cabin cooked all their meals for them during the shoot. Interesting stuff for fans of the film.
Interview With Actor Darren Evans: Steer clear. That is all.
The Video Specs:
The Audio Specs:
Dolby Digital 5.1
Single disc (1 DVD)
Link To Purchase:
DVD or Digital Download
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