04 December 2010

Left in Darkness 2006 - REVIEW

I found this film the other day on Chiller TV and I was apprehensive to say the least. Chiller is known for highlighting the lower budget B-movie but I've seen some pretty great ones on there as well. After a day or two I was finally able to sit down and watch it. I was extremely excited to see that one of my new favorite directors, Steven R. Monroe (I Spit on Your Grave 2010)had done it. What's more, composer Corey A. Jackson was also involved in this straight to DVD thriller.

On her 21st birthday, Celia (Monica Keena) and her friend Justine (Jessica Stroup) head out to a frat party. Celia is still struggling over the death of her Grandfather Joe (Tim Thomerson) and blames herself for the death of her mother during delivery. While at the party, she is drugged, raped and murdered. She awakens in the spirit world alone and understandably scared. Once she returns back to the main room, she is met by her Grandfather. But is it really him or is it a "Soul Eater", creatures that roam around outside the house who look human but can transform into a zombie type creature that corrupts innocent souls. Aided by Donovan (David Anders), her guardian angel, she tries to learn the rules of the spirit world, however as she goes on, she realizes that things in the spirit world aren't as they appear to be and she just may be in a place far worse than hell itself.

Anders is impressively precise and mature throughout. He delivers his lines with confidence which makes him extremely believable. Not to mention how well he pulls off the "Am I good or bad" part of his character. He was one of the best things in this film. The other? Why Tim Thomerson of course. He steals the show as the Soul-Eating Grandpa and commands the scene every time he's in it. Or maybe I'm just a huge Tim Thomerson fan... could be. Keena does her usual horror damsel thing well. I don't remember ever seeing anyone in a horror movie that is quite as good at crying as she is. This kinda makes up for her laughable running scenes. I was literally LOL'ing every single time she went running down the road. And WTF is up with her lips?? Monica, Monica why would you do that to yourself?? I had to rewind a couple of times to hear the dialogue because I was so distracted by her HUGE upper lip that never seems to move.

I'm sort of on the fence about this film. It was enjoyable and somewhat interesting, but I couldn't help but feel that it could've been so much more. Maybe with a higher budget or a better script we could've seen something really special. The plot structure was good but I think the dialogue really hurt it. There were several things I didn't understand AT ALL. We're taught (or at least I was) that when you die you pretty much stay at that age in your afterlife yet Anders character aged significantly since his death when he was eight.

Also are writers Philip Daay and Jane Whitney trying to tell us that everyone who dies is thrust into this limbo and given a choice between heaven and hell? I would hope death is a little more fair than that... On one hand you have Keena who is the victim. She's guilty of nothing more than too many botox injections and yet she still has to pass the tests put before her. On the other hand there's Doug (Chris Engen), a rapist and murderer who is given the same chance for redemption? I'm not sure that part was thought out well enough. The good news? Jackson excels at his part and does a great job at creating a tense and disturbing score. Monroe does his thing and as usual makes a lower budget film seem as if it had a budget of 4 million. He keeps it moving at an exhausting pace and creates a disorienting, nightmarish atmosphere. He is clearly becoming a master of darkness and shadow and does a great job at creating an ambiance of dread with little more than some incredibly effective mood lighting. As the lights go out, the suspense is amped up through what is happening and the race to get moving generates some good moments.

I'd say this one is good for a one time watch. It's nothing fantastic and it's not perfect (like me) by any means but it's entertaining. Don't go into it expecting to be scared or gross out. It's not really a horror film for gore hounds or those looking for a huge monster fest but it you want to see something a little different than the usual blood bath then it should do the trick. Just keep that in mind if you decide to watch it.

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