Fortune Teller (2007) – By Duane L. Martin

 Fortune teller is the story of a young woman who works for a psychic phone service from her apartment.  While browsing an online auction site one day, she came upon an auction for an old time mechanical fortune telling machine, complete with a fortune telling puppet of a gypsy woman inside with her crystal ball.  She bid on it as a goof, and actually won it.  Once delivered however, it’s predictions turned out to be all too real, and the puppet had more than telling fortunes on its mind.  It wanted out…but the spirit inhabiting the box needed a replacement before it could escape.  That’s where our young, phony fortune teller girl comes in.  The rest of the story involves torture, murder, the girl being locked up for the crimes, going insane, etc…

Now, the last film I reviewed from Jeff Cooper, Demon Board, had one big problem, and that’s that it was far too long and needed to be edited down from a full length feature into a nice tight half hour short.  So when he sent me his latest film, Fortune Teller, I was hoping that he had learned from his experiences with Demon Board and left a lot more on the cutting room floor.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and coming in at 95 minutes, Fortune Teller is at least forty-five minutes to an hour too long.  Again, as in Demon Board, we have extended torture scenes, pointlessly long segments that don’t really move the story along, and about the last half hour to forty minutes of the movie where the girl is in the insane asylum is not only dull, but it’s the same thing over and over…and over.  That whole section of the movie could have been cut down to about ten solid minutes without losing a single thing from the story.  Likewise, the torture scene could have been cut down to about a minute and a half and had a far better impact than a needlessly long and drawn out scene.

I think the lesson here is that when you’re making a film, you should decide if you have enough solid material in the script to make a feature length film, or whether you should cut things down into a nice, well edited short with a good storyline that moves along at a snappy pace.  Trying to stretch out a story that doesn’t fit into a feature length film only leads to disaster, which unfortunately is what happened with this film.

Just as unfortunately, technical issues plagued this film as well.  The lighting was horrible in many scenes, and often led to everything having a yellow-orange tinge.  Some scenes became extremely yellow.  I’m not sure what kind of lighting could cause this, but it was problematic throughout the film.  What’s odd is that many of the scenes looked just fine.  So I’m not really sure what happened there.  The sound was generally ok, but for some of the quieter scenes and bits of dialogue, the sound could have been recorded a bit better.  On the flip side, the music used in the film was good and suited the scenes in which it was used.

Now even though this film had major problems, there were some good things about it as well.  The fortune telling machine and the puppet work are of particular note.  They looked absolutely great and worked really well in the film.  I’d also like to commend Jeff Cooper on another good performance in his own film.  He played one of the psychiatrists at the mental hospital, and as with his performance in Demon Board as the demon, did a great job in this one as well.

Jeff Cooper seems like a really good guy with a passion for film making.  What I’d really love to see out of him next though is a short, not a feature.  I’d love to see what he can do with a tightly edited short, because I have a feeling it would be a great, fun film.  This one however was very long, drawn out and tedious.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check it out on the B-Films website at http://www.b-films.com.