Freddy Beans here with a review of the psychological horror movie DIANE directed by Michael Mongillo.
DIANE opens on a lounge singer act, the titular Diane, Diane Fay (Carlee Avers), is singing to us. She’s not the greatest vocalist but holds her sultry down until the end of the off-putting number. Then we fade out and join our main character…
Steve (Jason Alan Smith) is a middle-aged vet who tinkers in his garage fixing things. His life seems normal if a bit mundane as we watch him purchase do-dads for his garage repairs. He must have a lot of friends who buy broken equipment that he fixes for cash because his house is pretty nice! Steve goes to sleep and we lead into the next day. Everything seems normal as Steve begins his daily routine with some coffee and a beautiful morning view of his backyard. Greenery abounds, dew beading on the grass, and a beautiful dead lady lying awkwardly on the cinder blocks in his backyard. I’m not spoiling anything to tell you that this is where we are reintroduced to Diane.
So worried about her health he runs over to take a picture of her lifeless body before avoiding checking for a pulse and then calling the police.
What’s he get for calling the cops? He gets to be a suspect, that’s what. The moral here is not to call the cops, I think.
That’s the plot in a nutshell. How did Diane get into the backyard? Who killed her and what was the murder weapon? It’s like watching the board game CLUE play out in real time. Add in some distrust in the town, a couple pesky neighbors, Steve has violent PTSD outbursts, and relentless detectives that are certain Steve’s the killer and you have a pretty decent story. This feels a little bit like JACOB’S LADDER fermented with some MEMENTO stylings. DIANE however, isn’t quite as accomplished as either of those two films.
The cinematography was middling and seemed overly lit the entire film. It literally looks like a spotlight is hovering over every scene, which hurts the darker ones. There is no gore to speak of nor any real tension built throughout the film. The music is really good at setting scenes up and the actors are the saving grace here. Nothing monumental, but without them, the film would fall apart.
I really loved the dream sequences early on as they had a DREAMSCAPE quality to them that I just absolutely appreciate.
The mystery is a good one and the reveal is also, but it all still felt flat to me. That’s the great thing about horror movies though, as we all have different things that irk us. What may grab me by my throat may not grip you as tightly.
Coming in at a crisp 1h 22min this is over and done before you know it.
DIANE held its world premiere at FrightFest and had its US premiere at the New York City Horror Film Festival. It plays at LA’s arena Cinelounge September 7th. And is available nationwide on cable and digital VOD September 17th.
5.5 out of 10 hard of hearing people think you said ‘dying’ when you ask for Diane.
Til next time, Kids!
- Freddy Beans