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George Rossi is a Vietnam vet who is the superintendent of an apartment building in New York. Apart from taking care of his wife and daughter, he doesn't have much. George starts to find himself indulging in a few voyeuristic adventures with some of the tenants: he pokes around in their belongings when they aren't home, sits on their furniture, inspects the contents of the refrigerator, etc. Eventually, George's voyeurism begins to take on a more sinister turn, eventually turning to murder.
I haven't had the pleasure of dealing with a superintendent, nor have I ever had an apartment. Still, I'm sure some of you readers can attest to having a crazy superintendent or two grace your presence at least once in your lifetime. Written and directed by Evan Makrogiannis and Brian Weaver, THE SUPER garnered the honor of Best Feature Film at Dallas' Bloodbath Film Festival late last year. But seeing as they practically hand out awards to almost anyone these days, is the film worth it?
In some ways, THE SUPER has that vibe that fans of MANIAC will appreciate. Not only does the credit sequence at the start of the film harken back to 70s and 80s slasher films as well as some nasty gore moments (cinder block, anyone?), Demetri Kallas gives a very creepy performance as George, making the character come across as someone whose dark and demented tendencies are just under a kind and genial surface. What makes it even more unsettling is the idea that locking your doors won't help you (seeing as George has the keys to every apartment in the building), and that the sanctity of your apartment could be invaded and defiled at any time without your knowledge. Very cool idea. This all builds on top of the social commentary about Vietnam vets and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that Markogiannis and Weaver have injected into the script, as well as touching on race relations (the tenants are a mix of immigrants and ethnicities), making the film an interesting experience.
Staying with the characters for a moment, Demetri isn't the only standout as genre fans will recognize names like Marcia Nicole Barandshai aka Manoush, Ron "Necro" Braunstein, Ruby LaRocca, Raine Brown, Brandon Slagle, and William McLaughlin. All provide some great characters, with Manoush being creepy and ominous as a violent Russian prostitute who eventually teams up with George and his growing madness. In contrast, Lynn Lowry portrays George's sweet and simple wife Maureen. Visually, the film portrays New York City a character of its own with amazing atmospheric shots of the tenement itself, of the neighborhood and the streets. These shots only add realism to the film and give it a believability of 70s and 80s slashers. Toss in some wonderfully atmospheric music reminiscent of TAXI DRIVER (which the filmmakers cite as an inspiration), and you have a thing to behold.
Despite the wonderful cast, great script and visuals, the film has a few shortcomings. Pacing-wise, the film could have used a few snips here and there to keep the pacing consistent. It's not bad, but there are spots where it could have been tightened up a bit more to keep things from slowing down. Also, the opening credit sequence's use of the classic 'grindhouse' film stock look (the dust and scratches) only appears in that sequence, while the rest of the film remains normal. Whether it was a case of budget or just a change of idea, consistency would've been nice.
Small qualms aside, THE SUPER is is a well polished effort that serves as a great throwback to the slasher films of the 80s, while also tossing in a great psychological horror component to separate it from the rest of the 'me too' pack. The cast is spot on with its performances, most notably Demetri Kallas, and the gore FX by Brian Spears (who also did the effects for I SELL THE DEAD) are appropriately nasty. Give it a shot if you have the chance.
Despite being a screener, the disc came with the film's trailer.
THE SUPER harkens back to MANIAC with some TAXI DRIVER and psychological horror thrown in for good measure. Demetri Kallas provides a performance that you'd not want to f*ck with if he were your superintendent, but at the same time someone you at times sympathize with. Add to that the sometimes dark and gritty look of New York, and it's a great slice of indie grindhouse.