Just about all movies offer some reflection of the time and place that they were created. Looking back through a film library will offer insight into how people lived, thought and felt in places and time periods far removed for our personal experience. A corollary to this is there will be films that fit just right for our current situation. As Su horror film has to keep up with the time in order to remain fresh. What was scary for our parents or grandparents would probably be laughable to the current generation. In former times things like undead creatures or demonic cars were potential horror. Now we are in the age of technology and horror, like almost everything else, has moved online. The Japanese horror community Japanese horror community has pioneered the use of computers as a source of abject terror. In several cases the highly psychological slant of the Japanese has been watered down to cheap visceral thrills with the Americanized remakes. At least film makers here in the States have embraced this new pathway to horror with stories originating here. One thing that must be kept in mind is as a new segment of the genre we have to understand that many facets are still relatively experiment. The lack of polish is due mostly to the need to push beyond expectations into new ways to tell a scary story. The film has a number of short comings that may turn off some diehard horror fans. Personally, I enjoy watching something that was obviously a labor of love for the cast and crew. Their enthusiasm translates into something that has regrettably become rare; an honest attempt to do something out of the mundane. Such a film is the little Indy gem, ‘iMurders’. That attempts to blend old school, classic mystery with new age horror. Admittedly they fell a bit short of reaching all their goals but they gave it a true try pushing their astonishing collective talent. This film works because it represents the epitome of what independent cinema is all about; moving the art form forward.
When a film is short in just over s week with around a million dollar budget assignment of functions with the ranks of cast and crew tend to blur far more than on a studio movie. In the DVD extras for ‘iMurders’ there is a lengthy Q&A with the cast and crew with producers talking about their on screen roles and actors telling stories of how their own homes were used for shooting and how wives became craft services. This little featurette was interesting because it gave some understanding to how the film came to be made and the dedication this tight knit group had for the production. When the on screen and behind the camera jobs intermix as happened here there is a synergy that comes into play making the resulting picture more interesting and lively. I think where the movie was derailed in the horror community is it deviates from what has unfortunately the norm; mindless carnage, gratuitous sex and explicit torture. Screenwriters Ken Del Vecchio and Robbie Bryan (who also directed) approached the script with a novel idea; tell a coherent story. Sure, there is sufficient bloodshed to justify the moniker of horror flick but this is a film that expects and deserves the attention of the audience while watching. Some many horror flick can be used as background filler requiring you only look up for ‘the good parts’ but with this work you need to understand the characters and their motivations to get the intended effect.
The particular sub genre used here is the classic ‘dwindling victim pool’ plot device. In the ‘Q&A’ Bryan notes that he has always been a big fan of Agatha Christie and ‘Ten Little Indians’ was one of his favorite novels. Many horror and mystery stories have followed this example with mixed results. The most import thing is the drop clues that do point to the killer without actually giving the entire ending away. In this movie the goal is met by employing a tight knit ensemble cast. There is enough time afforded to each of the eight or so main characters to establish them as well drawn, realistic human beings rather than the cardboard cutouts typically found in this sort of film. The central element of the movie is a diverse group of people who became friends on ‘Face Space’ and broke off to create their own private chat room. The inspired nature of this concept is nicely expressed in the tagline that reminds you that online you don’t really know who you are talking to. The other side of the coin here is the types of people in an online chat room can be from any age group or social status. This is a very natural and realistic way to juxtapose a variety of characters that would most likely never associate in the real world. one by one the members of the group met a terribly end resulting in an investigation by the police who are hard pressed to discovery a motive outside of cyber space. There is the pretty blond event planner Sandra Wilson (Terri Colombino) just moving into a new apartment, victim of a brutal disfiguring attack former model, Lindsay Jefferies (Gabrielle Anwar) and the ad hoc leader of the group special effects maven Mark Sanders (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) and college professor Dr. Uberoth (William Forsythe) who has a perchance for young co-eds.
The pacing is actually quite good spending most of the screen time outside the chat room deviling into the past and present lives of each member. This gets the story away from watching a bunch of people sitting in front of their computer’s typing. It also sets up motives and opportunity for any to turn out as the killer. This suspense is maintained through the film there are several people such as Tony Todd and Charles Durning who bring their well honed talents to the film. The editing is at times choppy with quick, disconcerting cuts that do help keep the audience off balance. In all the film is a good time demonstrating a lot of potential for the film makers.