There’s a lack of good films coming out on DVD so I’ve been shopping for bargains in the hope of catching something that I haven’t heard about and I bought this one knowing nothing other than that it had been one the films at the After Dark festival. This is a fairly straightforward supernatural mystery thriller given an extra edge by a twisted serial killer who turns his victims into marionettes.
Lily (Kelen Coleman) a young art teacher gets a scholarship at Cassadaga University and moves in to luxurious rooms in a large Florida country house which are part of the scholarship provided by the wealthy heiress Claire (Louise Fletcher). Lily is trying to get on with her life after the recent tragic death of her little sister Michelle.
Lily is completely deaf but she can lip read and talk and he teaches art to schoolchildren. One of the children she teaches art to introduces Lily to her divorced paramedic father Mike (Kevin Alejandro) and persuades him to pay for additional art lessons. This leads to Mike inviting Lily out for a drink with his work buddies. His friends are having a friendly heated discussion about psychics. One is a total sceptic while the other gives the old line about how most psychics are fake but there is core of reality to it that can’t explained by science. It’s one those stock phrases used by people who think fuzzy thoughts about how nice it would be if there was an afterlife and wishes could come true so that they can pose as an open-minded free-thinker unshackled science’s quest for evidence. For a laugh the sceptic dares the believer to show them their best example of a genuine psychic.
They all go out to visit a medium but are put off by the price which is bit steep for a laugh. Lily says she will pay, wanting to use the chance, however slim, to speak to her little sister again. The medium uses an old gramophone player, getting Lily to touch the stylus while she tries to contact Michelle. This works for a few moments and Lilly talks to Michelle then another presence interrupts the contact causing Lily to pass out from the pain. Lily and her companions rush out with Mike rejecting the medium’s assistant’s offer of help for Lily to deal with any aftermath of the spirit contact because he thinks it’s a scam for more money.
Of course the Lily is having problems with the spirit that interrupted the séance, the vengeful ghost of Jennifer, a woman who was recently murdered and who gives Lily confusing random images and with more crippling pain. There is a sick serial killer in Cassadaga. We saw him as a little boy at the start of the film being told off by his mother for wearing a dress. The boy then goes to his room the blade from a broken pair of scissors and castrates himself. Now as an adult he takes women into a basement when he cuts off their limbs and reassembles them as twisted marionettes. This is some extreme perversion for a film that is otherwise so low-key.
The film follows the well-trodden path of plenty of other supernatural mystery thrillers and it is a fairly interesting story with Lilly trying to discover what happened to Jennifer. My only complaint is that the ending was all over bit too quickly and the killer really didn’t get any development other than the hint that he was just born bad because he liked to dress in dresses as a child. I’m not sure how well those graphic scenes with the killer fit in with mood of the rest of the film but they were certainly well-shot and had an appropriately nasty grungy feel to them. It’s not a very original film and I’ll probably forget about it fairly quickly but it was interesting enough to watch while it is on.