After the death of her sister, a deaf woman tries to contact her in a routine seance, only for a vengeful spirit to take hold of her. Can she discover the reasons of the unsettled spirit and uncover the shocking secret of a mystery serial killer.
The Hughes Verdict
Anthony DiBlasi is a name that makes me sit up with interest.
Having delivered the sublime DREAD which was one of the best straight to DVD horror’s in years, the guy who was also responsible for the decent but flawed Midnight Meat Train was one of the names attached to the new Hellraiser re-make. It seems DiBlasi is making one heck of a name for himself in the horror field and while it seems all attempts to return Pinhead to the big screen has more or less stalled, the talented director is still determined to make a name for himself and this week see’s the release of Cassadaga, a haunting chiller morphed into a kind of Silence Of The Lambs hybrid which sounds interesting enough, but does it further the reputation of one of the finest horror talents in years?
The film starts with two shocks, which is probably needed somewhat because what follows afterwards is a slow drawn affair that might test the patience of some fans out there. The first show is a bit of penis hacking that while you do not see close up, its a great little set-piece because you think you are witnessing a set-piece of a slash movie but it turns into something else. This moment of the film is what makes Cassadaga such an odd affair, because it does not fit right it what follows for the next half hour.
The second shock is when we meet the lovely Lily (Kelen Coleman) a deaf teacher who manages to do well in her teaching job due to the fact that she is an expert lip reader. What follows in this sequence is probably the most haunted moment of the entire film and its done without the use of any blood and shows why DiBlasi is such a deft hand when it comes to bringing horror to the screen. The tragedy that we witness makes Lily leave to start a new life in Cassadaga and after only minutes there she strikes up a relationship with a father of one of her new students because to be honest, Lily does not mess around with flirting and stuff and the film needs to move along than be swamped with a love story. The guy in question is Mike and if the face seems familiar then I am here to help you, it is Kevin Alejandro WHO? I hear you cry………well its Laf’s Boyfriend from this season’s True Blood and I am telling you this because it did my head in for most of the film until it twigged in the last half hour.
Like you do on your first date with a boyfriend and his friends, you all decide to visit the town’s most famous Psychic and its here that Lily decides to make contact with her dead sister. Its a scene which many have you seen countless times in other films, the seance goes horribly wrong with Lily having a spirit come from the other side and latch on to her because….the ghost has some unfinished business.
Cue endless scenes of Lily being tormented by visions and beaten by this woman ghost with endless cries of “What do you want?” until she finally comes to her senses and realises that maybe the ghost is trying to tell her something and the visions are leading her to a place where all the answers she needs are right there. Of course after scenes of haunting we get a bizarre twist of a serial killer who has just kidnapped his next victim and has them in a basement where he is doing stuff that needs to be seen to be believed. Again DiBlais shows his quality here because its a great introduction to a brand new style serial killer.
The trouble with Cassadaga is that it does not know what it wants to be. The storyline is predictable with the much superior Stir Of Echoes, haunting every frame of this picture. Its good for what it is, but you can not help but say to yourself that you have seen all this before but better! One of the most frustrating aspects of the “deaf” angle is that its never fully explored. One of the best moments in Silence Of The Lambs is the climax where Jodie Foster is underground and can not see nothing at all. Here I was hoping that maybe being “deaf” would play some part in the fear of the viewer. For instance, when Lily was in danger, it would have been great to be placed in her shoes and not hear anything but yet see the danger that she does not…..it would have offered some great tension moments but sadly her sad disability is not played around with and at the end I was even questioning why the lead character was written as deaf when the film did not explore it once?
The lack of real chills and tension is also a massive let down. With it being part Ghost Story, the hauntings are average at best (apart from a maggot scene) with this part of the film born out of the 90′s after the huge success of The Sixth Sense. Of course when it comes to the second part of Killer angle, the plot twists are too obvious and you need to defy logic at the finale because the killer does stupid things which enable Lily to fight back!
Despite me feeling a bit let down by the film, it is wonderfully filmed and Coleman is a sexy lead who brings sympathy when required, its the touching scenes with her sister that gives the film the required heartbeat and while I was expecting a lot more because of the talent behind the camera, this is probably a perfect weekend rental for those who like cheap thrills and an average plot.
As for DiBlais, you get a feeling that he was on autopilot here, but he shows enough skill with certain scenes that once again display the potential there and I and many others await for thee film that will make him a worldwide name in the horror field and from what we have seen so far….its only a matter of time!