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There is one mystery that has bewildered mankind throughout the ages. None of the incredible advances made in technology have made a significant dent in the resolution of this quandary. This topic the continues to elude even the most profound minds is one that concerns every human being regardless of wealth, status or convictions; death. This is one theme that still manages to elude science, philosophers and theologians with equal ease. No matter what your personal beliefs and understanding may be there is basically not way to fully know what occurs when we shuffle off this mortal coil. Not only do these factors make what lays beyond life a topic for research and religious foundations but it also provides a basis for a long string of horror flicks. The movies generated by spritistic themes run an extremely wide gamut from those that are much lauded like ‘The Exorcist’ to the plethora of truly awful zombie flicks. The movie under consideration here, ‘Necromantic’ lies somewhere in the middle; not great but still able to generate an acceptable amount of entertainment. Actually it resides somewhat on the positive side of middle as a movie that makes an honest effort at being as good as it can but without the pretension of overreaching to greatness. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to producing a solid, fun, movie and the cast and crew involved in this project succeeded in achieving just that. The film is weird and twisted in a fan favorable sort of fashion. Although it is not devoid of blood and gore the movie demonstrates more restraint than most modern horror movies. This may turn off a lot of hard core fans you have been conditioned to excesses to the point where torture is now considered run of the mill. Movies like this are part of a small but persistent movement to rescue the genre from the entirely visceral cheap scare replacing it with the more difficult to establish psychological fright. Anyone with a few gallons of stage blood and bucket of intestines can make a horror film acceptable by the current, lowered standards but it takes someone who cares about cinema and the real nature of horror to attempt to get into the mind of the audience frightening them from within.

The story was written by Pearry Reginald Teo who also took on the directorial function here. Turning that story into a shooting script fell to Stephanie Joyce. It is unusual for a woman to engage in the writing of a horror movie but perhaps this is one reason why the film works better than the rest of the pack. This presents an underlying change in the typical format and general sensibility of the film helping it to move towards the psychological thriller. Since it appears the vast majority of flicks in this genre are target to the puerile predilections of pubescent boys it is refreshing to see this kind of film presented from a different vantage point. Tao’s prior time up as director was in the Sci-Fi thriller ‘The Gene Generation’, which was produced by Ms Joyce. One plot device used here to excellent effect was to split the focus of the story between three protagonists. Each plot thread is twisted around the others finally pulling the film together. This also serves to remove the onus of carrying the film on a single thread. Considering the exaggerated ‘creepy’ factor inherent in the themes used this is a good thing. For example a man named Hagen (Santiago Craig) seems normal enough unless you include the fact that he is keeping the body of his recently deceased girlfriend Elizabeth (Zelieann Rivera) in the basement in hopes of one day resurrecting her. To achieve this goal his willing to go to any extreme no matter how dark and disturbing it may be. The second person to become involved in this unnatural quest is another deeply disturbed individual, Travis (Chad Grimes). Superficially it may seem that he is a caring man as he is devoted to caring for his severely mentally disabled younger brother. The twisted portion of his aspect lies in how he earns his living. He provides torture for hire. Travis is a heroin addict and I’m pretty such a vocation is not conducive with any twelve step program.

While Travis is in an anesthetic state induced by a sizable dose of Ketamine Travis is introduced to a particularly nasty demon, Morbius. He informs Travis that his beloved but addled brother has been abducted by another more vicious demon, Mr. Skinny. Perhaps he’s related to Captain Howdy from ‘The Exorcist’ so don’t let the silly moniker deceive you. The sinister vibe is helped by Mr. Skinny’s form; a butcher in a pig mask. Travis told Hagen to offer him a way to get Elizabeth back. In order to accomplish this he must allow Travis to carve Ouija board into his back in order to create a portal to the underworld. The film takes a convoluted path with a few surprises tossed in along the way. That is something else that works in favor for this movie; it revisits situations any fan of the occult end of the horror spectrum but the presentation comes off in a novel fashion. For all the macabre, surreal aspects that the film is built on it manages to hold the overall narrative together exceedingly well. The acting contributes to the effect by being more polished than typically seen in a film with a reported budget of a meager $300, 00. Teo did more with what amounts to a major film’s donut allotment than most of his contemporaries could must with a tenfold increase. With funding this low a lot depends on preparation to make every penny count and the bottom line demonstrated here is Teo came to the set well prepared. This film has help to restore my faith, and appreciation, in independent horror films.

Posted 09/06/2010

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