Sunday, January 20, 2019

Web-series Review: Under the Flowers: Season 1 and Season 2

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2019
Images from the Internet

Under the Flowers: Season 1
Written and directed by Richard T. Wilson   
Mad Shelley Films / RTW Productions
17 minutes, 2016

Starting out as a ghost-themed short film called “The Halloween Girl,” it has been expanded into a Web series.

Jackie (Katie Stahl), who is about to drop out of college, is searching for a boy who seems to be in trouble. She’s been having visions and sees dead people, and it seems like everyone she meets knows more about this strange boy than her, including, Nick (Scott A. Evans) a guy by a campfire who appears when she passes out, or Poe (Lauren LaVera), who looks like she fell into a vat of goth.

Katie Stahl, Gabrielle Huggins
Helping her as she can is Jackie’s bestie, Ella (Gabrielle Huggins), who has a whiff on the situation, and seems to know more than she’s letting on. Meanwhile, Jackie keeps passing out and having these odd and scary visions.
 Broken up into four chapters (averaging 4+ minutes each), we enter Jackie’s world in Southern New Jersey (near Philly), and see things from her perspective, learning at the same time she does. This is an unusual take on a ghost story whose ending I didn’t see coming.

There is little blood and minimal onscreen violence, but rather it focuses more on the characters and the story, and thereby drawing the viewer in. With its short span, it manages to cover quite a lot of ground. There’s a bit of an artistic flair, with some quick editing, but none of that gets in the way of the most important part, which is the tale itself.

The cast is attractive, and happily for this rare moment seems age appropriate (i.e., they look college age, rather than about to go into their Middle Age).

There is one question I have about the ending, which I won’t posit here and give anything away, but I am assuming it will be resolved in Season 2. I’m looking forward to that. 

 Under the Flowers: Season 2: Circle of Hell
18 minutes, 2018

The second season focuses more on Poe (Lauren LaVera), who transforms into Rose (Amanda Kay Livezey), thanks to her Virgil-like guide, Nerissa (Kirsten Lee Hess), who is taking her through her paces as they are fleeing from evil forces trying to get Rose/Poe’s soul.  

Lauren LaVera
Along the way, they meet other travelers, some innocent, others not as much. With additional digital effects that are actually quite effective and striking, we flip locales, between the forest and elsewhere. In the latter, we once again meet Charlotte (Catherine Kustra), the character from the original “The Halloween Girl,” who had more of a cameo in Season 1.
The first season won some awards, and thanks in part to that, the second is a bit more grand in style and form, having a more solid looking foundation with better editing, effects as I mentioned, and is even more engaging than the first (and both kept my interest throughout its run, albeit short).

This second season kind of answers the question I had from the previous one, though of course there are questions raised about the ending here, which I’m sure will come to light in Season 3, which is now in development.


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