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Lora and Ashley are identical twin sisters who have always had a special connection. Whatever sensation one sister was feeling, the other sister would feel the same thing. Now the two sisters are older and living separate lives, having not spoken for years. That is until Lora becomes haunted by visions of her sister, badly hurt and pleading for help. When Ashley doesn't answer Lora's phone calls, Lora heads back to their hometown to look for her missing sister. Her only clue to her sister's whereabouts is a man afflicted with a particular ailment.
If the thought of identical twins being nature's clones wasn't creepy enough for you, how about the apparent telepathy between the two siblings? That alone would be a great base to build a genuinely creepy thriller if it was done correctly. Even with a minuscule budget, a group of no-name actors, a strong script and a lack of gore, you could still produce a strong supernatural film based on those aspects about twins. Well, in this case, kinda no.
Being shot on a shoestring budget in Florida, SECOND COMING looks way better than what you'd expect. Writer/director/cinematographer Jose Cassella has made a film that looks far and above better than many of the indie films I've seen. I particularly liked the use of the warm filters used in most of the flashback sequences instead of going for the typical, soft-focus dreamy crap. Also, the makeup and effects look great for such a small budget, even if little of it is devoted to the actual red stuff. Really though, a supernatural thriller such as this shouldn't be about gore, unless it actually needs it.
Acting-wise, we're dealing with folks in this film who you probably won't see nominated for much of anything, but they do an okay job. Juliet Reeves as Lora and Ashley gives an admirable performance, but is overshadowed (in my useless opinion) by Haley Boyle, who plays the younger versions of Lora and Ashley in flashbacks. The kid knows how to go from a sweet little girl to a cold, emotionless one that's believable and restrained quite well. As for Greg Thompson, his performance as Barry Kane is probably the best of the bunch. Since the character suffers from tinnitus, the guy looks and acts like his life is constantly whacking him on the back of the head. Great stuff.
Things aren't so great for the rest of the film, however. Despite having an admirable cast and great cinematography, SECOND COMING suffers from being extremely light on the supernatural. And really, aside from ripping off Samara from THE RING in certain spots, the film really shouldn't be considered horror at all. For f*ck's sakes, the DVD cover is the biggest lie alone, as nowhere in the movie does this scene ever take place!
The other problem is that the film dwells on the whole mystery of what happened to Ashley for way too long, and when we do get to the whole part where we get to the whole revenge thing, there's a lack of payoff. Instead, it drags on until you arrive at an ending that despite having a twist to it, felt incredibly unresolved and almost nonsensical. Even by horror movie standards, I was stuck with a gigantic 'Huh?' in my head.
While I can't say I wasn't disappointed or pissed at what I had just seen, I can't slam SECOND COMING outright. Looking at it from the angle of 'how to do a great-looking film on next to nothing', Jose Cassella worked wonders, and should get more than a second look by studios. How this guy was able to pull off a film that looked this great with the small amount of cash that he had is beyond me. Obviously, had the film looked worse, I'd be spewing venom, as there's no excuse for gussying up a thriller like this and passing the result off as horror. Rent it if you're a film student, pass on it if you're anyone else.
Video:As you've probably guessed, the film looks nothing like a low-budget affair, and the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers shows it. Great colour throughout, with minimal grain or edge enhancement, you only wish your $20K production looked this good.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track is solid, but doesn't wow you as much as the transfer. There's little use of movement from the surrounds, nor do we get any room-shaking frequencies. Still, having audible dialogue without any distortion on a production such as this is a big plus.
First up on the extras is a commentary by writer/director/cinematographer Jose Cassella. While he does offer tidbits on production here and there, he does narrate what's going on at times, as well as plugging Full Sail as 'the best film school in the world'. Obviously, your opinion may differ or echo Cassella's, but there's something cheesy about promoting the place where your current scene is being shot.
Following that is Behind The Scenes of 'Second Coming', which is really just behind-the-scenes footage of shooting set to music that was made in GarageBand. Obviously, not terribly informative, but you do get the sense of how shots were constructed for the film.
'Wish' is a 15-minute short by Cassella that is again beautifully shot, and aside from some so-so flying bits, shows off more of what Cassella was able to do in SECOND COMING.
Rounding out the extras is the film's trailer and a Tinnitus PSA that really drives home just what people with the affliction go through, and is one of the reasons why no one should hear your crappy music being played on your iPod if you sit two seats over from them on the bus.
Strangely, despite being advertised on the back of the DVD case, there's no photo gallery to speak of.
Despite some great performances, an okay sort of thriller trying to pass itself off as horror is one you'd want to avoid. That's unless said thriller is proof that even with a tiny budget, budding filmmakers can make something look so good that can put some Hollywood efforts to shame. I have to give it props on that aspect, but next time, let's work on developing the script a bit more.