Written and directed by L. Gustavo Cooper
Copiii: The 1st Entry (aka The Devil Incarnate) is the feature film debut of L. Gustavo Cooper. The movie is based on a bit of Romanian folklore that dates back to the 1500’s, the legend of copiii pierdere, or the lost children. Basically, the legend says a raped woman makes a deal with a vengeance demon to dispose of her attackers and he’ll be repaid with her unborn child when she comes to term. The woman goes back on the deal and, needless to say, bad things happen. Copiii picks up the curse in modern day Florida.
When the movie starts, it appears as if it’s going to be another found footage indie. And indeed, some of Copiii is found footage, but Cooper blends the material from the lead couple’s handheld video camera in with traditional filming brilliantly. He takes the found footage technique, which has become rather played out and repetitive, and uses it in a very effective manner, making Copiii feel that much more realistic.
Graci Carli stars in the lead role of Holly Davidson. She’s on her honeymoon with new husband, Trevor, and a simple psychic reading leads them down the path to a nightmare. Holly becomes overwhelmed by the copiii pierdere curse and it begins to change everything about her. At the same time she finds out she’s pregnant, so Holly explains her unorthodox behavior by blaming it on her changing hormones, and that becomes a reasonable explanation that works well and adds depth and uncertainty to the character. As an audience, we’re not exactly sure what is happening until the film moves into its thrilling climax. Carli is absolutely amazing in the lead role. This is just her second feature and she knocks it out of the park.
In addition to Carli, the rest of the cast is outstanding as well. Trevor is played brilliantly by Rod Luzzi, and Trevor’s sister, Marissa, who is struggling to find herself, is brought to life by Emily Rogers. Marissa becomes a hugely important character as the film goes on and Rogers’ performance is one of the high spots of the film. Marissa is drawn to Holly and sucked into her downward spiraling situation. And it is that spiral that makes Holly so interesting. Characters that are breaking down are always so intriguing and frightening. Like Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist – we see her slowly becoming more and more affected by the demon. The same holds true here as Holly’s afflictions are not immediately obvious. It’s not until much later in the film when we are completely sure that something is really, really wrong.
With Copiii we basically have an up-and-coming director surrounded by a cast that is somewhat green. All the members of the cast and crew have a couple titles under their belts, but they are mostly just launching their careers. And with that being the case, the movie is not supposed to be this good. The directing is not supposed to be so slick, the acting not so spot on. Copiii is a very good movie made by some incredibly talented people. What they lack in experience, they make up for in pure skill.
Helping to build the tension and add to the ambiance is a fantastic score and soundtrack. The music composed and selected for Copiii is excellent and does exactly what it should do: add to the feel and flavor of the movie.
As Copiii comes to a climax, you may find yourself a bit puzzled by what exactly happened in the movie’s conclusion. It gets a little fuzzy and the ending is somewhat open for interpretation. Personally, I would have liked a bit more of a concrete conclusion, but it stuck to the legend and the conclusion was inevitable.
L. Gustavo Cooper really puts himself on the map with Copiii: The 1st Entry. The overall project is very good and it’s because of his attention to detail. Small things… like whenever the demon is on camera during the found footage segments, there is interference in the video. Little things like that add greatly to the realism. It’s creatively shot, not always going in chronological order, but looping back on itself. And it’s done in a way that is viewer-friendly and easy for the audience to follow. Additionally, Cooper does a masterful job at bringing some incredible performances out of a cast of budding actors. Watching this offering, you’d think he has 20 films under his belt.
Copiii: The 1st Entry is a fantastic indie film that is definitely worth a look. Director Cooper does an amazing job weaving an intricate story of a woman suddenly overcome by an ancient curse and the effect it has on her and her new family. Kudos to Graci Carli, Emily Rogers and the rest of the cast of the film for delivering excellent performances. As indies go, Copiii is an outstanding offering.