DVD Review: CASSADAGA (2011) [Archstone Distribution]

CassadagaDay11-0146Spoiler 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.

 

“What did I tell you about dressing like a girl? Get that dress off! GET IT OFF!”

–Mom

 

Release Dates:

2011

12/31/13 (DVD)

 

Cast and Crew:

Director – Anthony DiBlasi

Screenwriters – Bruce Wood & Scott Poiley

Cast – Kelen Coleman, Kevin Alejandro, Rus Blackwell, Hank Stone and Louise Fletcher

 

The Gist:

Even before the opening credits roll, the film plays on several strong emotions intended to strike deep in the minds of its audience. And it works. One of the best opening scenes I’ve seen in a movie, in a long time.

Under deep emotional strain and anxiety over the death of her younger sister, of whom she adopted, Lily (Kelen Coleman) quits her job and moves to the small spiritualistic community of Cassadaga. Finally settling in under the roof of Claire (Louis Fletcher) and getting a job teaching art at the local school, Lily meets Mike (Kevin Alejandro), a single father of one of her students. She accepts a group date from him and his EMT friends and after a few alcoholic beverages, the crowd ends up at a wicked séance. After this goes outrageously wrong, a dead girl begins following her around, appearing at the worst times, tormenting her and driving her to the last possible brink of sanity. The ghost, like most ghosts, wants something from her. A parallel story unfolds with a serial killer known only as Geppetto, who de-limbs his victims and transforms them into human puppets, all while still alive, drawing closer to Lily then she could ever imagine. Will she figure what the specter wishes before insanity consumes her? Will she fall victim to the sadistic torturing of Geppetto? Will she start a cooking show? Find out all this and more by checking out CASSADAGA.

This film has it all… castration, drinking milk straight out of the carton, human marionette dolls, decaying maggot-encrusted arms, paintings by the water, a joint puffing grandma, cross-dressing children, ironic street signs, and an eyeball that explodes into white mystery goo/man finishing sauce.

 

The AV:

Overall, the colours are where they should be. Foliage defined in picture and vibrantly green, the night shoots and blacks are without crush. The scenes with the serial killer are wonderfully saturated with dramatic yellows and ambers, casting an eerie glow against the post pulp filters. With the sound, there is excellent use of the back channels, especially when hearing the dead speak. The sound design is top-notch, except some exterior scenes, which the it drops to just above a whisper and I swear I heard wind. There is also the matter of a sex scene, without music, just weird breathing and panting and moaning. Very odd.

 

The Verdict:

This past year in horror has seen quite a few characters with disabilities, which is good in the sense that these are normal and very capable human beings. Yet it seems picking on unintelligent females in slasher films isn’t enough anymore, and they’ve moved onto blind and deaf females, who actually end up kicking righteous ass in the end. I’m just saying.

For starters, there is a serial killer, who turns his victims into living marionette dolls. Cool. CASSADAGA is completely original in that aspect, others it is not. What does a ghost want? Why do we even care? An After Dark film, it is the same “girl with a troubled past moves to a small town” but adds so much more to the classic plot setup. Throughout the film there are quite a few cool tricks played with the camera and sound. The camera will show people conversing and as it zooms closer to the main character, the sound drops and all is quiet, conveying that she is in fact deaf. There is an especially wicked scene midway with a phonograph. The acting from Kelen Coleman is perfect. She manages to make you feel for her character as she loses her sanity, a rare occurrence when mostly one just wishes for them to die a gruesome death. The ending though is only half-clever, and in my opinion could have had more scenes foreshadowing it, besides one brief piece of information. Fans of Scooby Doo will figure it out. That’s all I can say without giving anything away. Overall though, a micro budget hit with scenes that work and scenes that don’t and scenes that will go down in horror history as truly original. Emotional. Startling. Wicked. Check it out.

Also, don’t forget to stick around until after the closing credits for a mini-scene. I hate those.

 

The Supplements:

Trailer (0:01.35)CASSADAGA DVD Artwork

 

The Video Specs:

Codec: MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 480i (NTSC)

The Audio Specs:

English 5.1 Surround

Subtitles:

English SDH & Spanish

Discs:

DVD-5

Single disc (1 DVD)

Region:

1

Feature Length:

01:52.34

 

Links To Purchase:

Amazon DVD

Amazon Instant Video

 

 

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Christopher Gibson

Chris can be found only at night, playing vast hours of XBox 360, reading uniquely disturbing novels, and scouring Netflix for late sixties horror flicks. He has 69,000 Gamerscore and counting. Supposedly at the age of three, he beat Super Mario Bros. on NES, though possesses no recollection of this. Writing novels since the age of fourteen, he hopes to one day publish them. On Friday nights, he is seen at the local indie film theater, then the pubs next door shortly after, for thorough critique among friends. Follow him on Twitter @Literaryman420

 

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