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directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper
USA 2009

 

After her mother is tragically murdered in front of her eyes, Rachael Weiss (Mia Ford) and her lawyer father Nathan (Sam Jaeger, TV's PARENTHOOD) leave Los Angeles to start over. Rachael, who is able to "see dead people" and hides in closets when upset, does not fit in with her classmates and her father is busy with his new job. She is befriended by precocious Michelle (Sammi Hanratty) although she has overheard the principal ambiguously warning new teacher Abby (Lori Heuring, MULHOLLAND DR.) about the girl. Rachael is unsettled by Michelle's sociopathic behavior, her frightened older sister and parents, visions of Michelle's dead older sister, and the intimations that she may be behind the disappearance of another child the year before and further accidents befalling their classmates.

 

That the film had its US premiere on the Lifetime channel ("Television for Idiots!") - likely due to the female director, which is quite rare in the horror genre - should not bias more patient viewers against checking this one out. It does have a TV movie look and feel to it but that's not really the problem. Despite mostly confident direction (apart from one obvious attempt at a false scare), the "scary" imagery is too familiar and the pacing is a bit too leisurely. It takes half an hour of ambiguously elided setup scenes for anything to happen after the opening trauma (as such, a sudden supernatural sighting by Rachael is unexpected). Michelle's BAD SEED character is interestingly sketched out. She's the "replacement child" for a daughter that died of leukemia before Michelle was born (she talks about chemotherapy for her class report which was supposed to be on insects) - whose room is kept locked although she's stolen the key - and she has a large black birthmark on her neck which is the object of teasing from some of the other kids (she efficiently takes down one boy early on for making fun of it). For the most part, director Culpepper manages the awkward comedy of manners bits that make it difficult for sensible characters to steer clear of Michelle or act on their suspicions (that is, until Michelle whips out the barbed wire) but the audience is way ahead of the adults and after the slow-paced first half, the rest feels a bit rushed (although Culpepper doesn't waste time on a subplot burgeoning romance between widowed father Nathan and divorced/cheated-on Abby). The lead child performances are very professional and understated. It is easy to give a pass to decent child performances but Hanratty and Ford really carry the film and are very deserving of the film festival nominations they have received for their work here. The adult characters are less dimensional and the actors (including the always watchable Heuring) are fine.

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release: 31 July 2010 (USA)

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DVD Review: Bigfoot Entertainment (Screener) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Bigfoot Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:29:33
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Bigfoot Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: 14 September 2010
Amaray

Chapters 1

 

Comments

Bigfoot's screener disc has no menu and is 4:3 letterbox and interlaced. Compression artifacts are evident throughout.

Hopefully, the finished DVD will be improved. 5.1 audio is good for a SIXTH SENSE-esque horror film. A "property of" disclaimer appears intermittently throughout the film.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Bigfoot Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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