Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: All Sinners Night

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2016
Images from the Internet

All Sinners Night
Directed by Bobby Easley
Horror Wasteland Pictures International /
High Caliber Films / World Wide Multi Media / MVD Visual
90 minutes, 2014 / 2015

You reap what you sow, I guess. This Satanic cult film was shot in the Hoosier state of Indiana, where the governor is a Far Right Christian by the name of Mike Putz…I mean Pence. Yep, he's the very same one that Trump guy picked as his running mate. That this was made in his state make me, well, smile.

The way the story is set up, we meet two people with something in common, though just how they found each other I’m not sure. David’s (Tom Sparx… hmm, I wonder if that’s his birth name, he asked with a nod and a wink) wife killed herself (on camera) on Halloween, and Lana’s (Brittany Jessee) brother disappeared at the same time. They meet in a town 12 hours away on the next Halloween, though I’m not clear how they knew where to meet either, or how they knew when.

As you can see, there are some issues in the story. Perhaps I missed the connector? Either way, they go to the sheriff and the deputy (who they do not shoot because they are not Bob Marley, nor Eric Clapton, but I digress…), who of course do not believe there is anything mysterious is happening there and now because, well, these occurrences happened 12 hours away a year before.

Meanwhile people in masks are killing men and kidnapping women left and right. Honestly, most of the masks are quite cool, and I kept thinking, “I want one of those!” even though I have nowhere to put them in my house. Of course, people are going to reference The Purge franchise because anytime anyone is silent and does things violently as a group in masks these days, that’s the vibe that resonates. In this case, however, I don’t think that applies to the actual Purge story, from what I could make of it. To me, The Purge chain is more equivalent to The Hunger Games.

Why the killing? Why the kidnapping? How do these two strangers fit into it all? That actually gets answered, but I’m not gonna be the one to break it to you and be a spoiler.

The film actually looks decent, with lighting and editing, though the storyline is somewhat compromised. Also, there are a couple of scenes towards the end where the sound is so highly modulated that the voices actually buzz. This should have been fixed in post, in my opinion, but I’ll move on. What I found likewise found strange was that it seemed like some of the sounds were looped, so you would hear something like screaming in a certain pattern, and then repeated in that exact same way with a jump between the two, so it definitely was a tape played over once or twice, if not sometimes more. Kinda distracting, quite honestly.

The one thing that’s consistent throughout, though, is incredibly bad acting by just about everyone. Sadly, the worst of the batch is Jessee, which is a shame because she really is attractive and I’d otherwise like to see her in more roles (so far, this is her only IMDB credit). She looks like she is always looking to the side to read cue cards, which I call the Saturday Night Live Syndrome. Hamming it up to the nine’s, though – in a different style of bad acting – is Bill Levin, who plays the hyper-intense Reverend Hiram Graves (if you can’t figure out his role in the whole shebang, you probably shouldn’t be doing crossword puzzles). With this forceful level, the irony to me is that Levin is the founder of the First Church of Cannabis! But even though he is chomping on the scenery every chance he gets, he has a great look for the part, with an angular face and penetrating eyes that fit the role perfectly. Not sure about the Joker purple and green wardrobe, but whatever.

Actually, the best acting is by John Dugan, who plays a small but pivotal role that is almost comic relief but not quite. For those who don’t know, he’s the guy who played Grandpa under the rubber mask in the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974. It seems like every production needs to have at least one great genre cameo these days, and I say that with glee not derision. Coming in second acting-wise is Jackie Palmer who plays – er – Deputy Palmer. It’s not a flawless rendition, especially her last scene, but she has good conviction.

I will say that this is an earnest film, and the last act is definitely ramped up from the rest. Also, the raids to kill the men and kidnap the women that show up sporadically are usually handled well, despite the acting limitations. Throughout, the makeup effects by Phil Yeary are stupendous (with one exception, where there is a close-up of a shot-in-the-head victim who you can easy see the hole is drawn on). Everything else looks really great. The only nudity, since we’re talking about this kind of thing now, is the same person, twice, from the waist up.

For extras, there is a music video by Dead Dick Hammer which is fun but not spectacular, and a bunch of cool trailers (including this film and another by the same director). Then there is 7:02 set interviews feature with the director, cast and crew; it’s short and interesting. Also included is a 6:29 outtakes reel which is a combination of mistakes and pleased comments by the director that were taken off the original track in post.

All in all, it’s not a great film due to many factors, but it’s not so bad it’s bad, nor is it quite up to so bad it’s good. On the other hand, it certainly has its redeeming moments of action that make the in-between hunh? flashes livable.

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