Half Moon (2010) – By Cary Conley

Rose is a down-on-her-luck prostitute still learning the ropes. One slow night on the street she runs into a hooker friend. Rose’s friend tells her how lucky she is because once a month she has a customer that pays her $3,000 just to talk all night. Needing to relieve herself, Rose’s friend hands her phone to Rose while she ducks into an alley. But as luck would have it, the hooker is discovered urinating in public by the police and arrested, leaving Rose to answer her friend’s phone. Rose decides she’ll take the mysterious customer’s call and meets him in a cheap hotel room where they soon discover they share several things in common.

Jacob is a handsome and mysterious man of eastern European descent. Instead of hitting the bed right away as Rose expects, Jacob wants to eat dinner and make conversation. As they talk, they discover that they are both lonely and that they both love baseball, especially Pete Rose. They also discover that they like each other–very much. But after an intense session of lovemaking, things quickly take a turn for the worse. Rose notices Jacob place a large amount of money in the hotel room safe. She also finds a bag she mistakenly thinks is a rape kit hidden in the bathroom. It contains drugs, rope, handcuffs, duct tape, a knife and a gun. Angry that she came so close to dying, she locks herself in the bathroom and calls Kevin, her pimp. They quickly drug and tie up Jacob and Rose is left to watch the unconscious man while Kevin goes in search of some safecracking tools. While Kevin is gone Jacob confesses that the bag is a kit for immobilizing someone; but instead of being used to rape and murder unwitting prostitutes, the kit is for immobilizing Jacob himself. Jacob reveals that he is a werewolf and is expecting a special doctor to visit tonight to administer the last in a series of very expensive treatments to cure him of his lycanthropy. Rose is just meant to be a diversion for Jacob as he waits through the long night for his doctor to arrive. The treatments must occur just before Jacob turns into a wolf, which happens to be now. He begs Rose to untie him and allow him to call the doctor, but greedy Rose can’t help stop thinking about the money in the safe. Will Rose save herself and Jacob by setting Jacob free so he can receive his final treatment? Or will Rose doom them both with her greed?

Half Moon is a mildly interesting attempt at a character-driven horror film. Taking place almost exclusively between two characters in one setting, the film is very talky. While the conversation is somewhat interesting, it takes a good deal of time for any action to occur. We do have the obligatory sex scene because adult film actress Tori Black stars as Rose, and what kind of film about a hooker that includes a porn star would we have without her shedding her clothes? While the sex is R-rated, I must admit it is a pretty hot scene and Tori Black is quite attractive. But other than this scene, nothing much goes on until the very end of the film when Jacob (Marek Matousek) undergoes his transformation.

The special effects are very low-budget and pretty cheesy, with the transformation being a very cheap computer-animated progression that reminded me of the original Wolfman transformation, followed by a man running around in a wolf suit. There are a few minor gore effects, but this really isn’t an effects-driven film so the gore isn’t emphasized. The only other effect is a very cheesy transition shot of clouds passing over the moon above a painting of a city nightscape. Director Jason Toler must have spent quite a bit of the tiny budget for this film on this particular scene because he uses it several times.

While the effects are pretty bad, the two leads are not. Black ranges from average to excellent, shining especially in scenes where she is angry. Matousek is the strongest actor in the film and is quite convincing throughout. Director Toler is a proficient director and does a nice job with the camera. But while I appreciate Toler’s attempt at fleshing out his characters and not just making them one-dimensional, unfortunately the character development comes at the expense of the story. The action is nearly nonexistent, so at 90 minutes, the film is just too long. Better pacing and a bit more action would have helped the film.

Overall, Half Moon is an uneven attempt at making a character-driven horror film but its lack of action and turtle-like pacing dooms this one. The film is being released on Breaking Glass Pictures’ Vicious Circle label, with a street date of March 1. For more information you can go to www.breakingglasspictures.com.