Wednesday, March 4
Directed by Eric Stanze
70 Minutes (Director's Cut) / Wicked Pixel Cinema / Unmatted Full Frame
A mysterious man clad in leather visits a couple of guys in their home leaving only a small black box. Simple instructions for a game are contained within and the guys decide to get friends together that night to play. Soon after the group begins, a strange fever dream takes hold. Each is thrust into an alternate dimension(s?) filled with nightmarish frights, terribly outdated digital overlays, and the man who originally presented the game as a murderous servant to the game's unseen overlord.
If the synopsis sounds vaguely familiar, that's because this is Stanze's ultra cheap and amateurish first take on his 1999 film, Ice from the Sun. D.J. Vivona plays the same servant character (The Presence) as in Ice..., but to much less effectiveness here, tending to invoke a Freddy-esqe persona. An intense feeling of early '90s teased hair and neon splash haze greatly hamper the film's strives towards a depressing and perilous atmosphere.
The best sequence takes place in an abandoned barn in the center of desolate woods in which The Presence terrorizes a young girl with a chainsaw and mind games. Stanze flexes some editing muscle to make it convincingly appear as if there are multiple Presences itching for the girl's demise. The rest is a mish-mash leading to a quasi-satisfying conclusion that all feels much longer than seventy minutes.
Given the choice, Stanze's 1999 version is certainly desirable viewing, but this obscure oddity the director himself seems to wish to forget (not even listed on the IMDB) is an interesting peak at the filmmaker's earliest, formative years.
VHS Picture: 5/10
VHS Sound: 6/10