Director Shawn Holmes, took a gamble and created a sci-fi thriller movie that contained nothing about zombies, vampires, ghosts or serial killers, and on staggering unheard of amount of money, $300, all with dedicated friends and Shawn serving in every department except acting, even he knew his limitations. The most incredible aspect is this production serves as his first film, along with screenwriter Hari Sathappan and Shawn assisting in the department both again first time writers, given an intelligent concept with heartfelt romance, and feeding the audience with tension, compacting in 70-minutes.
A simple enough plot that any horror fan immediately finds reminiscent from Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners (1990), however, that condemns this project, rather it builds slowly, reeling the viewer into the clutches of the storyline, and the passion that the drives the entire vehicle towards a thrilling conclusions. A soldier, Nickk Boxer (Michael Guy Allen) returns from his tour of duty in Afghanistan only to find himself swept quickly in a romance with beautiful woman, Kayla (Meg Braden) who possesses the most natural mysterious eyes, that lure a prey into her clutches, he becomes her fiancé. Sadly for Nick, in a war of loss and mourning it continues in the civilian life too, Kayla dies under too convenient methods, and a suspicion grenade goes off in Nick’s mind. In distraught Nick contemplates his existence, choosing his exit method from life, justifying it in his mind, suicide in war a noble act, in civilian a coward’s choice but without his love to live on, he takes life, short term as friends rescue him from death’s clutches. Although Nick experiences a flashback and convinces himself at there is world an earthly plane between the two worlds, a serious of vision he sees in the afterlife to solve Kayla’s mysterious death. Nick against all advice, creates a suicide resuscitation device, and suffers through brain damage and physical impairments to find the truth destroying relationships gripping to the land of the living. No one can muster the power for an intervention, and yet no one thinks of destroying this makeshift device, or just committing him, to a hospital, and herein lies just some of the plot holes, especially the creation of the device, as it is never stated if he has basic medical knowledge let alone advance training. If one recalls in Flatliners the cast were all trained medical students to various degrees, that does not exist here and the equipment used truly seems far-fetched to work properly. Allen does a magnificent job of using the character of Nick, his experiences in battle and the immoral actions, filling his mind with traumatic events plaguing him, and perhaps muddling his memories with explosion consequences result when trying to work against the dead.
The film packs in high energy and uses a fast paced skill trying to overcome plot holes, and here lacking the storytelling skills yet the set and camera work gives a professional slick style, that appears worth more that the budget absurdity stated. The tiresome cycles of dying repeating and returning with drips and drags, pulls downward on the positive tension created, and that holds opposite of what one seeks in a thriller. One must overlook the acting, not everyone is going to have theater trained actors at their disposal for crime mystery story, while they might look great for a straight horror movie with zombies, a thriller, relying on dramatic positioning takes a toll on the cast and crew (Holmes). It’s one thing to play homage to a director in scene, but not entire picture, and the script required more rewrites and more define characters, a further deviling into Nick’s past and weaving that into the storyline, further pushing the boundaries rather than keeping in a safe distance.
Despite the criticism for a weak screenplay and poor acting from the supporting cast, one must welcome Holmes into the director ranks proudly, enjoy the fondness of his original gusto guerrilla style, dealing with his drawbacks on funding. The next picture, Shawn embarks on needs the proper funding, and a bit of temperament to ease down the pacing and avoiding jump cuts. Overall the movie has a strange conclusion, a bit hurried, yet works by hitting all the marks, and received something many other films never achieved, distribution from reputable company and in this case that is WildEye Releasing.