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