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Necessary Evil: Horror movie set in total darkness
The look of the film for the most part gets a thumbs-up from me. From the beautiful mountain countryside for starters to the makeup jobs on the ghostly Donner Party members, it's really something for an indie film. Some effects, namely the CGI snow, don't fare too well, but for an indie movie, I'm prepared to give 'em some slack.
Unfortunately, that's really the only positive stuff I can say about the film. The acting by everyone involved seems wooden and uninspired, and at times downright annoying. Danielle De Luca's character sticks out the most in terms of the one you want to blugeon with a shovel, especially when she slips on some ice and for no reason "falls" down a hill, forcing her friends to rescue her dumb ass. Actually, you can't totally blame De Luca for her performance, since the real culprits are writer/director Jason Stephens and writer Robert Michael Ryan.
Usually, capitalizing on an event such as the Donner Party tragedy would be a slam dunk, especially when it hasn't been explored before. But no, not with these writers. I'm not sure how many times I can write 'missed the boat' without actually drawing a picture of a boat sailing away. It's like Stephens tried to do THE SHINING mixed in with some possession, but sadly fails. There are moments where flashbacks occur and we see Donner Party members chowing down on each other, but for the most part the ghosts and underutilized and misleading. The film plods along at a dreadfully slow pace, which is a big no-no with a 70-minute runtime. To add insult to injury, the later third of the film just feels incomplete, leaving you scratching your head. Is it a ghost story, or a case of cabin fever? It's just not good.
Once the credits rolled and I'd woken up, NECROSIS just seemed like a wasted opportunity. Even with the added star power of 80s one-hit wonder and Playboy pinup Tiffany, 'Heroes' star James Kyson-Lee and horror legend Michael Berryman in a cameo (who obviously needed to come back for some ADR work), the film just doesn't do it. A few scare here and there, but weak acting, weak writing and weak use of a previously-unexplored tragedy is just, well, weak. If you really want to see how a winter isolation movie is done, go check out THE SHINING or John Carpenter's THE THING.
Audio: Having a choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby 2.0 Stereo, it's really a no brainer, especially when there's not a heck of a lot of difference between the two of them. For the most part, dialogue (especially those obvious ADR moments) is clear and distortion-free, with the other effects taking advantage of the directionals.
Following that is a 30-minute Behind The Scenes doc on the making of the film. Basically starting with Stephens and Ryan sitting in front of a black curtain chatting about what we're about to see (handheld footage from cast and crew on the set chatting it up or goofing around). Nice to see on-location footage and the cast interacting with one another, but the editing job by Jason Stephens leaves it sort of 'blah', with a static title shot for the featurette and plain-vanilla credits.
Lastly, there's the film's trailer, which is again just okay, if you look past the choppiness. It's difficult to sell a movie when your trailer reflects the film's so-so quality.