Sunday, November 22, 2015

Trace this Source to Hell: A Film Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Terror Films. This reviewer has worked with Terror Films on some online marketing for this film.

Director/writer: Ryan Brookhart.

Cast: Jeremiah Benjamin, Mike Capozzi, Nick Fink, Patrick Giraudi and Samantha Lee.

Trace is an indie film from Terror Films and first time feature director Ryan Brookhart. The film deals with the supernatural and a demon, who likes to devour the many alcoholic characters. It uses electronic devices to make its presence known. At the one hour mark, Abigor (Patrick Giraudi) finally confronts the characters, on whom it wants to add to its murder list. Trace is a well paced feature, with a decent story. Though, Abigor needed to create a more physical presence. Few people believe in the supernatural, nowadays and this summoned demon needed to step out of hell into the real world, a little more. Still, Trace offers lots of tension, during its runtime and many horror film fans will find some great thrills here.

What happens when you summon a demon? Nick (Nick Fink), the protagonist, and his friends soon find out that the underworld does not like to be disturbed. When it is stirred up, at a late night drinking party, evil likes to terrify the guests with a distorted voice. Or, it likes to haunt a radio, or a computer. It only creates scares indirectly, until late in the picture. In the meantime, Nick tries his best to stop the demon's killing spree. The bodies pile up, but Nick is too busy drinking his latest whisky shot to offer much resistance; Abigor has not met its match. And soon, darkness descends on the characters and onto the screen.

Trace offers decent productions values. Much of the film has been shot on a closed set. This use of interior sets keeps the peripheral, external chaos to a minimum. These controlled environments also allow the actors to develop and deliver believable characterizations. All of the characters help bring the terror to the screen. Also, the film has been shot, with what looks like, high quality digital. The screen is not stretched, nor does it look drained of colour. All of the action is picked up with detail. As well, there are a few exterior scenes, which help break up the claustrophobic feeling, which is created by the many interiors. The exteriors are often shot in the day, adding a brighter quality to the feature. Overall, Ryan Brookhart brings a competent production here, especially through the visuals.

The story is also slightly novel. Though the supernatural has been re-used in horror often, this time around the spirit uses a proxy to terrorize the characters - electronics. Abigor is not much of a music fan. Instead, it prefers to reside in static. Still, its voice can be heard, via electronic recordings. Later, it alters a television so that it shows snow. In another scene, it reaches out through the screen, to haunt two characters. Abigor is reluctant to face the characters head-on. But, this demon does increase in power as the film winds down. Still, it would have been interesting to learn more of this ancient demon's past. As it is, Abigor never really becomes a full, terrifying character.

Trace does move along at a decent clip. Characters are introduced and developed appropriately. The more innocuous or minor characters depart first. The protagonist does his best to save his friends. In the meantime, several of the other characters disperse into their own lives. But, Abigor unifies them all as Nick searches for a counter to this demon's murderous instincts. Dialogue, between the characters Nick and Duffy (August Roads), keeps the story grounded. Other characters are slightly more disposable. Though, every character is moving the plot along, in a goretastic fashion.

Trace recently released through video-on-demand formats and this reviewer would recommend the film, despite any biases. The film is a bit of an underdog, but it should not be. The film really stands on its own. From a high production value, to the development of the plot, Trace will draw many viewers into its mostly unique story. Most of the characters are well drawn. Although, Abigor is the most shallow of all of the characters and it should not be. Villains have a reason for their existence. But, this malefactor is only a shadow of what it could be. And, true horror is developed with believable motivations, not just supernatural ones. A few more compelling appearances from the demon could have helped the film reach true terrifying heights.

Overall: 7 out of 10.

A trailer for the film is hosted here, on 28DLA:

A Trace Trailer on 28DLA

Recommended release: White Noise at Amazon

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