Midnight Releasing champions another independent film, from director Tiffany Heath, her debut as director and screenwriter, delivering a psychological thriller, more than a horror movie, which explores the extreme child abuse with a crafty twist. Heath’s film didn’t go unrecognized as she won the Texas’ Lagniappe Film and Music Festival’s director award in 2014 for the best horror film, which was originally known as Spavine. The terms psychological and horror, often exchange themselves, depending on the conditions, for example The Omen (1976) a horror movie, however Gregory Peck, refuse to do a that genre, and hence repackaged so would sign onto, the same with The Silence of the Lambs (1991) the killer is a cannibal, but with the term thriller – awards galore! Many horror films use the word “thriller” to stand apart from the genre to garnish a more respectable status, yet it does work both ways, and horror fans continue to support the other genre with similar allegiance.
Dr. Ryan Andrews (Denton Blane Everett) a well intending therapist tries to assist his patient Darcy recovery from nightmares from childhood and dangerous obsessive bouts of sleepwalking, tying her down to restrain her movements, yet developing an ill-advised romantic connection. In fact, the therapy sessions from the chain-smoking doctor, appear displaced from a hospital setting and more likely his home bedroom, and tied to his bedpost. In addition, to those mental issues, therein lies the animalistic treatment that developed in her psychic by the hands of her mother, though strangely she doesn’t quite exhibit the traits, which might allude to a working treatment. Ryan quickly learns that her former household is now abandoned (from the county and that Darcy is sole inheritor) needless the doctor takes her to the location, and finds unexpectedly a child named Sam (Jake Heath). Sam exhibits the animalistic qualities, sniffing, and acting as a dog or other four-legged critter, but sadly, not to the actor’s credit, the script he doesn’t assimilate to the trait for long, and returns to a young boy natural course but as a mute. More about Sam in a moment, as they set up home, it deplorable conditions, Ryan never phones the police about the boy’s discovery leading to stressful phone calls, likely inferring that he violate the hospital procedures, however this course of logic, determine by the audience and not the script. Darcy’s involvement in the treatment process proves quasi-useful, reluctant and yet wanting to please her love interest Ryan, submits to the torment again, but the cost might exact too much from them all. Sam, develops a strong bond with Ryan, and develops a tad quickly for the child not only abandoned but, surviving as an animal, learning how to sit at the table, eat with a spoon learning words, and somehow knows how to write words.
The storyline plods slowly, as if sleepwalking and the plot holes sink one deeper into understanding the overall concept. A series of flashbacks with bloody consequences and hinted to some very grotesque family hobbies, which match well as distant cousins to Ed Gein and the legendary horror film that shares the state name, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Special effect makeup artist Phil Nichols gave a solid display of skills and creativity, which the fashion world definitely hopes he never enters their workshops, but sadly the new work for Midnight, takes away from some definitive and intriguing artwork shown on the original Spavine movie posters. Once again the movie poster art of recent times, has slid further downward to boredom and passive stance, the artwork, serves as a purpose to capture the attention of the viewer to give wonderment and intrigue, now simply ‘ugh’; high resolution, glossy, and very political correct. A psychological impacting movie needs control, a steady hand on tempo and tension building, never to squanderer it away willy-nilly, it needs a skillful balance of dramatic moments and tinges of horror, and the music helps that along from David M. Frost. A prime example, Penn and Teller, the magicians which break the code, and tell how the tricks work, but first they do the performance and then reveal, herein this movie all the staging cast away with large portions of revealing occurring often and losing the connection of surprise.
Although the movie has flaws, as does all of cinema regardless of large or small low-budget films, and works fine, but this is not exactly a pure thriller, and leans more to the lower end of horror. It develops a slow kindling effect, expanding the story and investing the time in setting the tone and opening the viewers to a hidden mystery.