Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Finale


Starring: Carolyn Hauck, Suthi Picotte, Elizabeth Holmes, Steven Nieport, and Brad Barnes

Directed by: John Michael Elfers

Written by: John Michael Elfers

Production Company: Fire Trial Films

Release Date: March 29, 2009

Awards: Best Cinematography at the 2009 Boston International Film Festival, Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2009 Oxford International Film Festival, and STIFFY for Best Horror Film at the 2009 Seattle True Independent Film Festival

John Michael Elfers wanted to write and direct Finale to exorcise some personal demons. According to Elfers, the premise behind Finale is based on actual events: his brother's suicide and his mother's paranoia that a Satanic cult was involved. The demon exorcised from his past made for a great demon in Finale.

The Michaels are a typical family until the eldest son and brother commits suicide. Everyone is naturally saddened by the passing, but mother Helen is particularly stricken with feelings of guilt and not satisfied with the lack of answers surrounding her son's death. Helen begins spending much of her time at her son's house where he mysteriously splattered black paint everywhere. She finds a journal and begins learning about his girlfriend and a strange Satanic cult.

Meanwhile, Helen's daughter Kate joins an acting class and, despite her inexperience, lands one of the lead roles in an upcoming play. She also finds herself the love interest of lead actor PJ.

Helen soon finds herself plagued by a demon, written about in her son's journal, who kills through reflective surfaces. While she tries to insure that the mirror demon can't get at her or her family, everyone else begins to think she's going crazy. Kate also learns that not everything is as it seems with PJ or the play director Miss Bliss. Are they connected with the cult behind the demon?

Elfers doesn't waste time to get us looking suspiciously at the reflective surfaces in all of the scenes, and the shots make good use of those objects making them as much a part of the scene as the actors themselves. The film is shot to look like a 70s horror film, so the graininess is intentional for mood and effect. Most impressive is that CGI is not used in the film at all. I assumed it had been for the demon, but Elfers and his SFX crew went with old school tricks...tricks which maybe shouldn't be so quickly discarded for the often times noticeably unreal computer effects.

Not everything is answered here, so if you're hoping for a modern horror film which fills in all of the explanation like a color by number picture, forget it. I think it adds to the mystery of the film, but it may be frustrating for some.

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