Director: Dante Tomaselli
Vince Lamberti/Reverend Salo Jr.
The Amazing Kreskin/Reverend Sol
HORROR offers us two tales in one movie. The first story has five teens escaping from a drug rehabilitation center to seek a promised salvation at Rev Salo Jr’s (Lamberti) home. The second has the aforementioned Reverend’s daughter Grace (Mahon) being drugged by her parents and conversing with the spectre of her grandfather (Kreskin). Both stories merge to take us into the depth of a living nightmare. And then, there’s the goat….
It was 3 in the morning when I popped “HORROR” into my DVD player. It is now 3:30 in the afternoon and I still haven’t gone to bed yet. I was just too spooked to hit the sheets and decided to pull an all-nighter instead. After giving us the unique "Desecration", Dante Tomaselli returns to the genre in good form with the more aggressive and twisted “HORROR”.
Much like "Desecration", this movie will probably leave you in the dust in terms of the “what the hell is going on?” factor. The chain of events that this movie presents is ambiguous and purposely left wide open for interpretation. The movie constantly moves back and forth without warning between the present and the past, as clarity obviously isn’t one of its aims; think David Lynch on acid. Once the film was over, I personally couldn’t firmly understand how everything happened (I would need a couple more viewings for that) but I sure picked up on the flick’s many themes. The abuse of religion, repressed memories, dream-like states and humanity’s dark side, all issues which Tomaselli had explored in his previous outing. Here, the director doesn’t spare us and delves into those themes through hell-bent visuals.
The dialogue here is secondary. The images and the symbolism are what drive the picture. And since the movie’s lead teen “Luck” (Lopes) is high off his booty on shrooms, that gives the director “carte blanche” to bombard us with far-out hallucinogenic scenarios. Want to see two demonic giant “Jack O' Lanterns” glowing fiendishly? Or maybe it's people’s faces looking like burned toast that cranks your dial? How about a chilling painting that changes facial expressions or a teen that turns into an ice cube? This film goes all out with the trippy offerings and just when you think that it can’t go any further, well, it does by slapping in lumbering zombies (very Romero), a torture chamber and of course, the priceless demonic goat. Let me take a moment here and comment on that damn goat. I love animals. I love petting zoos. I’m a kind-hearted type of horror fan. But after seeing the goat in this film, I will never approach that wretched beast again. Talk about scary! This film does for goats what "Jaws" did for sharks.
And I couldn’t continue this review without mentioning the presence of “The Amazing Kreskin” (Reverend Salo) either. In reality, this man is one of the world’s top “mentalists” and his displays of power in this film are astounding. Having done an interview with Dante in the past, I knew that there was a scene in the movie where Kreskin hypnotizes (or whatever he does) a group of people to make them all fall to the floor, paralyzed. According to Dante, that scene was real, Kreskin really made those people crumble under his will. Witnessing the scene onscreen, I had no trouble buying that it truly went down. Kreskin’s mind control mumbo jive felt very authentic to me, therefore making his scenes in the flick even more odd and powerful. Now don’t ask me what Kreskin’s character had to do with the whole of the storyline, because on that, I’m still not quite sure yet. But bottom line, the dude gave me the freaking creeps.
Although the non-linear approach to the storyline didn’t tarnish my enjoyment of the piece, I did have a problem with the film’s knack of abandoning its lesser characters along the way. Two of the main teens are dropped early on (what happened to that stoner dude?), so the story could concentrate solely on the main players. I didn’t dig that. Why introduce them in the first place? The same can be said about the fate of Amanda (Brown). I warmed up to her as the film progressed (yes, she’s pretty darn cute) but after her altercation with the goat, she was basically dropped out of the story. I really wanted to know what happened to her!
But overall, HORROR managed to crawl under my skin and genuinely scare me. The film is filled with eerie characters, odd situations, hints of deviant sexual practices, chilling paintings, mind-bending images and it definitely plays by its own rules. Having seen so many horror movies, I don’t scare easily. Just for that, Tomaselli deserves a pat on the back. Now let's go find that goat…
We get some blood puking, a bullet to the head, burnt faces (they looked burnt), a bunch of rabid zombies, a girl being eaten alive, a decomposing body (or whatever it was doing), a nasty neck bite and more. Enough red here to put the “up” in “Ketchup”...
Danny Lopes (Luck) handles his part well and kind of looks like a young Vin Diesel. He’s very charismatic. Vince Lamberti (Reverend Salo Jr.) is incredibly frightening as the sinister Reverend. He does a lot of odd physical movements that compliment his character. The Amazing Kreskin (Reverend Sol) is simply “amazing”! His scenes feel very genuine, therefore making them so much more compelling. Lizzy Mahon (Grace) is focused and subtle as the troubled teen. I was very impressed by her performance. Christie Sandford (Wife) is just plain creepy looking. Raine Brown (Amanda) is a cutie pie and handles her scenes well. Jessica Pagan (Marisa) does an overall good job but there were moments where I felt that her performance lacked conviction. Felissa Rose (Art Therapist) has cameo in the film that goes from charming to….well…you’ll see.
T & A
Well, if you like goats…
Tomaselli has a great eye and he shows it off here. The film is filled with creative shots, goat POVs ("Evil Dead" vibe), groovy angles, brilliant use of sound and very effective use of silence. Add to that amazing cinematography and the eerie lighting, and you get one amazing looking piece of celluloid. I will also give props to Tomaselli for milking his settings for all that they were worth. The snowy landscapes, the somber woods filled with Christmas lights and the plain looking house all helped make the film look even more dreadful. It just goes to show that it doesn’t take a big budget to make a good horror flick…all it takes is imagination and talent.
The score by Tomaselli is almost creepier than the film itself. The opening music alone gave me goosebumps. The score perfectly supports the striking images that the film showcases.
This film delivers exactly what its title promises: HORROR. It’s been a while since I last cowered under my sheets like a schoolgirl while watching a genre flick, but HORROR had that effect on me. If you enjoy the films of David Lynch or appreciated Tomaselli’s "Desecration", then I suggest you hit HORROR with all the gutso you’ve got. You will NOT be disappointed. This is by far one of the scariest movies of the year and NO, there’s no CGI in it. Tomaselli proves that the simplest things can be used as instruments of fear. Hollywood should pay attention. Now I’m going to hit the kitchen and chow down on some goat steak…”bon appetit!”
There is presently no distribution strategy or release date confirmed for this picture.
The film had a budget of $200, 000 and was shot on Super 16MM.