Hey Everyone, Freddy Beans here,
I was asked to review a film that hasn’t found a distributor yet-Close Calls (2017) by Richard Stringham. Thank you for the opportunity S & Drive Cinema.
Kids, this one started off a little hard to watch. That said, I was rewarded nicely for hanging in there through the early stumbles.
"Close Calls" stars Jordan Phipps in her acting debut as ‘Morgan MacKenzie’ your typical teenager in a film, who looks nothing like a teenager. She is the star of this film and you can see why Stringham chose her. She’s absolutely gorgeous, with a body that accentuates that beauty. What I at first feared, would be a cheap Skin-emax retread, turned into quite a bit more by the end. I ultimately feel this film would benefit from a good 15 to 20 minute chopping down in the editing room. The acting is weak all around and there are a few continuation errors I couldn’t help but notice. Pizza falls without any dressing on it and splats on the ground with a pint of ranch spilling out its sides; Gramma soils her gown with her bloody hands to have the red streaks disappear in the very next scene; but these are minor complaints. Anyone that watches horror as regularly as I do, tends to expect imperfection within reason. All we care about is gore, terror, uncomfortable environments/positions, holding our lunch in, and gripping the edges of our seats. This movie provides some facets of all those by the much stronger ending.
Before I get into this baby more, I want to point out this director knows his horror. There are many nods to older American and Italian horror I noticed in the film, from The Shining to Suspiria (lighting/music). I’m not sure if these were all intentional or not, but they made an old horror buff like myself smile. The music in this film is fucking great and harks back to the hard core Italian horror movies of the 70’s/80’s. That had to be intentional, and I for one loved the choice. There’s something dirty or grimier about an imperfect looking film dancing to a dark synthesized 80’s beat. I absolutely loved the music in this film, finding it amplified key scenes for the chase at the end. I will look for this soundtrack once it gets distribution, which I’m sure it will. For horror movie fans, this one is a hodgepodge of ideas mish-mashed into a digestible if imperfect movie experience.
Morgan is grounded by her father for getting caught doing the hokey pokey in the family spa with the boy next door. Who mysteriously enters the film to kill time until he mysteriously disappears from the film. I merely mention that because I’m unsure what his role was for, or why it was even kept in the flick as he’s never really mentioned nor seen again. It seems he’s just there to anger our star while teasing the audience with his urgings to get her naked. As I mentioned before, this woman is bountiful in all the best places, and the camera makes sure we have time to take her all in. You won’t find me complaining, though I would have if her acting didn’t get better by end of the flick. The big surprise is, it did. Everything in this film got better as the film went on, seemingly a little backwards in that I’d think you’d want to grab your audience immediately.
Morgan wastes her day doing quite a few different drugs then visiting her gramma upstairs at night, a bloody nightgown clad woman who tends to speak in a demon voice when she’s upset. I wasn’t sure if this was due to her needing the medicine that Morgan is supposed to provide, it’s never really explained. Gramma has a key scene later in the film that sort of ties her storyline up… sort of.
Barry 'Greg Fallon in real life' introduces himself as the only actor with a familiar face, though I can’t tell you anything he’s been in. Barry's introduction into the film is what really gets this sucker cooking to a boil. He’s the enemy I didn’t know existed for the first hour of the film, but once he’s there knocking on the door asking to come in, I'm absorbed. I felt like he lifted the film up a level.
This is a movie that will only appeal to the horror crowd, of which I’m a lifetime member. If you can bear that rough beginning the rest of this movie absolutely improves as it goes along, in all facets. This one entertained me throughout, even if I was laughing at the movie for the first quarter of the film. By the end of this one I was immensely involved in the outcome (odd as it was) and felt a little icky. Stringham deserves a bigger budget, he's got the stuff to handle a much stronger film in his sophomore effort. A movie I'm now officially looking forward to as I would recommend this movie to die-hard horror fans, making sure to mention to hang in there; it grows on ya like a fungus. There’s legitimate horror to reward those that hang on through to the end.
Insert bloody shovel wielding bimbo here
Til next time Kids
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