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THE ENTRANCE
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Reviewed by: Dave Murray

Directed by: Damon Vignale

Starring:
Sarah Jane Redmond
Michael Eklund
Jerry Wasserman

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Inspired by the 15th century tale of a nun possessed by a fallen angel named Baalberith, The Entrance is alternately the story of five guys being made to play games for their lives by a demon who wishes them to pay for their considerable sins, and of the cop who will have to face her own nightmarish past in order to figure out just what the f*ck is going on! An ancient demon judge, innocence, revenge and the nature of sin all come creeping up on you in this excellent thriller.
Is it good movie?
Actually, this movie surprised me. It wasn't an instant horror classic (then again, what is these days), but it did have a lot going for it. It was moody, stylish, well written, with some killer performances and some twisted humor along the way. And by twisted I mean that some of the horrific setups were sick! This . upped the cool factor of the movie for me, and the slick visuals achieved on what was obviously a tightly budgeted production made it easy on the eyes, while the whole demon angle wasn't overdone and made it even easier on the head. I've always liked religious themed horror, playing with demons and history and whatnot, so director Damon Vignale's little tale of sin and revenge was right up my alley.

First off, there is a fine ass performance by Sarah Jane Redmond as a conflicted but tough cop who's own past tortures her. In fact, she's the central lynch pin in the demon's plan for revenge against sinners. I like the way she was drawn in, though a web of interlocking crimes and stories, so that it would ultimately be her that satisfies the demon's hunger. As well, Michael Eklund puts in a fine turn as a drug dealer who is being tortured by the demon, then is possessed by him, who ends up being the final sacrifice. I especially liked the simple story point of the burned tattoo on the hand, which denotes someone is possessed by Baalberith. The way that it appeared and then disappeared was a nice touch, and it never left you guessing what was going on.

Now, to the demon's games. This was a high point of the movie for me. Despite the cheesy death scenes when the demon would take a victim (and that less than effective invisible demon girl with the teeth and shit), the sick games on display here display just how much of a wonderfully twisted motherf*cker the demon in the story must be. Where in the Saw movies the victims are put through bloody and disgusting tortures in order to fully appreciate their lives, in The Entrance the demon has them playing musical chairs, bingo and poker for their lives! That is some twisted shit right there! These mundane games made the proceedings seriously creepy and fun. I was laughing out loud until I realized just how much more creepy these games made the story.

So all told it was a pretty entertaining ride, and with a bigger budget I see big things on the horizon for Vignale. The dude has style and some malicious talent to work with, and that I dig. Plus, possessed janitors just creep the hell out of me. I have no idea why!
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.78:1. This flick looked gorgeous and moody. I'm seriously digging Vignale's style, and it comes through crisp and creepy on this DVD.

Audio: English (Dolby Digital Surround 5.1) with English and Spanish subtitles and English closed captioning. The sound levels and the soundtrack worked for me here. Dialogue was a little low in some places, but overall it was a good job.
The Extras
Aside from a trailer gallery, there is a Making Of Featurette (16:00) that has some interesting views from director Vignale and his spin on the 400 year old tale that inspired this story. It's also great to see some of the actors talking about this indie gem outside of their intense character portrayals. Not much here on the DVD, but since the movie is pretty cool it's not that bad.
Last Call
The Entrance had me intrigued. The flick looked and sounded awesome, the performances were credible, the games the demon had them play were hilarious (which made it all the more creepy), and the narrative payoff in the end was nice. Sure some of the effects were a little low budget and hokey, but on the whole this was a decent genre effort that's making me want to see more of both Damon Vignale and Sarah Jane Redmond. Filled with mood, intelligence and some fine performances (as well as a killer premise) even made the predictable and derivative parts go down smooth. And I loved how they tied a centuries old religious possession tale into a modern setting of innocence and revenge, as well as the subtle use of the 'Baalberith' mark on the hand when it mattered. Nicely done. If you like twisty demon thrillers, this one's for you.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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