Dark Reel (2008)
Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Starring Tiffany Shepis, Edward Furlong, Lance Henriksen, Tony Todd, Rick Baker
Directed by Josh Eisenstadt
Every once in a while I come across a cinematic gem that just needs to be doted upon. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I will do my best to make sure everyone knows about it. They may not agree with me, but I can guarantee they will hear about it at least a hundred times before I’m done…
And then I’ll just start over!
Dark Reel is one such film. When judging submissions for the Eerie Horror Film Festival, I always try to keep my expectations lower than normal because I know I’m watching indie films instead of major productions, but it is always nice to be pleasantly surprised by talent! Josh Eisenstadt hit the nail right on the head with this one and damn near buried it on the first whack!
Adam Waltz (Furlong) is a quirky, down on his luck fan-boy who wins a walk-on role in a local B-movie, but his small part begins to grow as the cast of the film shrinks at the hand of a vicious murderer. Of course because Adam is benefiting from the sudden deaths of his co-actors, he becomes the number one suspect in the crimes. Detective Shields (Todd) and his partner are bound and determined to get to the bottom of the murders, which are beginning to point to an all but forgotten murder case, but are they focusing on the wrong person?
Furlong (T-2, Detroit Rock City) and Todd (Candyman, Hatchet) are joined by Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead), sexy B-movie scream princess Tiffany Shepis, and even effects wizard Rick Baker in this delightfully wicked dark comedy. All deliver solid performances, although Hendriksen did seem to take his role to just this side of absurd at times. And let me just say that never have I seen Tiffany Shepis shine the way she did in her role as Cassie Blue! It was so refreshing to see her showcased in a way that brought out every ounce of talent and loveliness that all too often gets covered and disguised under too much make-up, cheesy scenarios, and uncomfortable whorish qualities by less competent directors.
This brilliant casting is only made stronger by the cleverly written story, great kills and make-up effects, and fantastic direction. My only “reel” complaints are the slightly lengthy runtime, which could be trimmed down a bit, and the considerably cheesy haunting effects of the long dead Scarlett May. Unfortunately, these ethereal images wind up more ghastly than ghostly.
All in all, though, Dark Reel is a damn enjoyable slasher flick with a sick flair of humor that keeps the audience off guard and guessing to the twisted end. It’s no wonder that it is enjoying a great run on the festival circuit right now, including being a selection of the Eerie Horror Film Festival. Congrats to the cast and crew on your well deserved success!
4 out of 5
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