Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review: Deadly Revisions

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Deadly Revisions
Written, produced and directed by Gregory Blair
Pix/See Productions / Good Kids Productions
SGL Entertainment / MVD Visual
94 minutes, 2013 / 2015

While they were together, actors Rip Torn and Geraldine Page had a mailbox outside their New York apartment that read “Torn Page.” I was reminded of this by the use of names in this film.

Bill Oberst, Jr.
Grafton Torn (genre rock star Bill Oberst, Jr.) is a horror screenplay writer who has been having troubles of late. His main characters are a man with a hatchet, another with a noose, and a demonically haunted doll. He’s been in an accident in his home, and is suffering from some amnesia about the last few hours before. Dreams are filled with images of his written imagination, and to add to it, he’s in the middle of a divorce from his harsh wife (though we are not privy to why she wants the divorce for a spell). Even a hypnotherapist (Cindy Merrill) can’t seem to break through.

Cindy Merrill
A lot of the characters have *wink wink* names, such as the above mentioned Torn, whose appellation is a bit of an oxymoron as “Graft” is to join, and “Torn” is, well… Then there are other players whose monikers include, in part, references, such as Dr. Myers, Ash, and Nurse Voohrees. For me, this is rookie thinking, as it’s a bit cliché to do that, especially in a drama.

Now, this is going to be a bit of a hard review to write, because I want to discuss the ending so badly, but I won’t because it isn’t fair to the viewer, but I will say the following: about 20 minutes into the film, I took a guess at the ending, which didn’t seem such a stretch. Not a new theme, it’s used often enough to have its own descriptor (which I will not reveal, as it would instantly give it away). At that point of the story, I said out loud, “I hope I am wrong and the film surprises me; if that is the conclusion of the major plot, I’m going to be really disappointed and pissed.” Sadly, I was right.

 f you don’t guess it, and are shocked by the end’s twist, as apparently many people have been, you may want to watch it again in that Sixth Sense way to see the clues after the fact and go, “Oh, I missed that.” If, like me, you figured it out early on, you will catch the hints at every turn, confirming your own suspicions. At that point you can either be proud of yourself, or if you’re like me, you will be disappointed at such a hackneyed punchline.

I should point out that this has won numerous awards in festivals, and except for what I have been talking about, I can sort of understand it. It’s problematic in parts (even without the end), which I will go into a bit, but there is also a cohesiveness that belies a talent from the director that I hope he will evolve with. Good things can come out of the practice of this work. Do I think it deserves the prizes? Let me think about it, and get back to you on a future date.

Dawna Lee Heising
The two leads, Oberst as Torn and Mikhail Blokh as his pal Deter fare well (even though Deter is written to sound a bit like Maynard G. Krebs, with lots of “Hey man” kind of lines). Both are strong actors. Some of the rest of the cast is occasionally questionable in acting skills, if bombastic in other ways; one, who is quite intelligent in real life, comes across more as a living cartoon character thanks to what appears to be physical enhancements. Others range from decent to, well, stereotypical indie acting.

But for me, the biggest bitching I have to say is about the night lighting. You can’t see very well when the characters are roaming around outside at night, or in the house with the lights off. It’s a bit frustrating.

The extras are a Blooper/Gag Reel that is okay, and two trailers.

To be fair, this is the director’s first outing in that role, having been a genre actor for a while. I’m cutting him some serious slack, because there is a lot of promise in this, and I’m hoping he’s learned a lot from the experience, and rightly so. Editing wise, this is well done, and the general foundation of the film, such as look (other than the darkness) and feel, are actually pretty successful. I also like how the soundtrack uses a lot of dissonant bass notes rather than screeching tones to indicate warning. There are plenty of nice touches, such as the creepy doll with the glowing eyes, so I am hoping Blair keeps going, and I’m interested to see his skill increase.

Now I’m going to go to bed and turn off the gaslight, and unlike the Torn character, have a good sleep.


  1. Enjoyed reading your review here, Robert. Thank you for taking indie horror seriously and for holding it to high standards. IndieHorrorFims is a smart and supportive blog for our genre. I appreciate it. Merry Christmas to you!


    Bill Oberst Jr.

  2. Thanks, Bill, that actually means a lot to me. The purpose of this blog is three-fold: one is to actually help promote indie artists, but at the same time be truthful, as this would help my credibility for when I do like something (also, most films, even the bad ones, have something to say nice things about, though not all). The second reason is I get to see all these films that I never would have probably even heard of in the first place. Last, I get the chance to discuss films with many writers, directors and actors. I recently had a really nice conversation with a director about the meaning of the open-ended conclusion of the film. I actually disagreed with his own vision, and he was very understanding and could see what I meant. So, thanks again, and please feel free to keep in touch about future roles!