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Fading of the Cries (2011)

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Fading of the Cries

Starring Brad Dourif, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Elaine Hendrix, Jordan Matthews, Hallee Hirsch

Directed by Brian A. Metcalf

Distributed by Eammon Films


Being a huge indie horror fan, I was pretty anxious to check out the much buzzed-about Fading of the Cries, the directorial debut from Brian Metcalf, to see if it lives up to the hype surrounding it (“Insane visual effects!” “Epic fight sequences!” “It’s got Brad Dourif!”), but sadly, the film is a complete misfire and I’m still trying to make peace with the fact that this movie is actually making its way into theaters later this week and I’ve seen so many more deserving titles go directly to DVD and Blu-ray without ever getting a shot at even a limited theatrical release.

But before we take a look at the positives (yes, there are some) and the negatives of Fading of the Cries, we should take a look at Metcalf’s story (he pulled double-duty on the project) before going any further. At the start of the film we meet Michael (Nicholas, whom you may know as the least popular member of the American Pie cast), a troubled writer (aren’t they all?) who moves into a spooky old house as a means of therapy to get his mind back on his writing after his wife and child die.

However, Michael starts dabbling too much in the dark arts after he notices strange relics in the house and eventually he’s killed off. Now, fast forward to 14 years later and we meet Michael’s niece, Sarah (Hirsch), who’s a nightmarish teenage girl that has very little respect for her own mother (Hendrix) that unknowingly unlocks the gates to Hell after putting on a necklace left to her by her deceased Uncle Michael.

After storming off following a fight with her mom, Sarah and a friend get surrounded by a horde of flesh-eating zombies (I’m saying zombies simply because these creatures are never explained in the movie so it’s all I have to go with here), but then a mysterious teenager named Jacob (Matthews) swoops in and saves Sarah from certain death. And that’s when the story in Fading of the Cries goes into another direction, and then another, and then finally another. But in a nutshell, there’s an angry sorcerer named Mattias (Dourif) who will stop at nothing to get his hands on Sarah’s necklace, and I think you can get the picture of what happens from there if you’ve ever seen a sci-fi/fantasy film in your lifetime.

Honestly, if I tried to break down the entire story of Fading of the Cries, this review might end up reading too much like a grad school dissertation- there’s just too much going on in this movie and that’s where it suffers. For his feature film debut Metcalf has fallen victim to his own ambition. Rather than focus on a few key storylines to give the audience a clearer sense of the narrative, he instead chooses to throw at us a jumbled mess that features almost every single horror/sci-fi/fantasy cliché that has been made popular over the last 15 years (seriously, the only things missing were nods to The Blair Witch Project and Avatar).

But even though I definitely am not a fan of Fading of the Cries, I do think as a director Metcalf does have the potential to be a good filmmaker. With a background in visual effects, he clearly demonstrates in Fading of the Cries a strong sense of visual style, and I’d be interested to see what he could do as a director if he were given someone else’s script to direct from.

Also on the positive side, there are some clever creature designs going on in the film, and the visual effects look pretty great (even though Metcalf tended to overuse his visual effects prowess during several scenes) for an independent film without a huge budget behind it. And despite being bored at about 15 minutes in, I did manage to crack a few smiles at some of the dialogue from Sarah’s younger wise-cracking sister, Jill (Rosman, of “7th Heaven” fame), who is the only actor in the film that actually seems comfortable in her role.

With the Hot Topic-esque title Fading of the Cries and a hero that tries to be too much like the love child of The Crow and Atreyu from The Neverending Story, it’s a pretty safe bet for me to say to most of you out there that regularly read this site that Fading of the Cries is definitely one you’ll want to skip when it hits theaters this Friday. Trust me, if I had paid money to see this in theaters, I’d definitely be demanding a refund once the credits were rolling. At best, I’d say check Fading of the Cries out once it eventually hits Netflix Instant.

1 1/2 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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