Grand Horror, The (2006)
Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Starring T. J. Roe, Jeremy Cech, Steve Eaton, Rhyann Crooks, Pam Ring, Robert Kister
Directed by MaT Kister
Within the first few minutes of The Grand Horror, you can tell that the film's budget was about as nonexistent as a whorehouse run by nuns. Yet, even through the digital video, amateur cast, and quirky fades, one can easily see that these filmmakers have talent. Low budget doesn't always mean low quality, and The Grand Horror proves just that.
The movie follows a small group of strangers as they take refuge in the local theater. Forced together by a zombie-like infestation, this unwilling assemblage will have to find a way to work together to survive. Unfortunately they are soon faced with a new terror within the walls of the very haven they had hoped would protect them.
The film was shot at The Grand Theatre in Grand Island, Nebraska. Being able to utilize such an amazing location must have supplied the young cast and crew with not only a huge amount of thrills but also an ass-load of challenges. One of the most noticeable in the film was how to protect the theater and still shoot an effectively gooey horror movie. Personally I think they more than pulled it off. Yes, using plastic sheeting protected the historical building, but it also added to the overall atmosphere of the film. You may think that huge sheets of plastic that suddenly cover a once bare set would be distracting and not just a little corny, but it worked well with the plot. I'll guarantee you that plastic sheeting has never been so ominous!
Another thing that works for the film is the witty writing and line delivery that is at times reminiscent of character exchanges in Kevin Smith movies. The Grand Horror is definitely not packed full of stellar performances, but a few of the characters are a blast while on the screen.
Like most early attempts at filmmaking the direction, lighting, and editing could use some fine tuning, but there weren't enough glaring flaws to detract from the film itself. For being such a low-budget indie horror film, The Grand Horror is a shining example of what can be accomplished with talent, hard work, and a genuine love of the genre. Even the sound work was above par for most indie films I've seen. I didn't have to adjust the volume every time the background music or sound effects came on.
Visually the film looks pretty good. I'm not a huge fan of digital myself, but I am learning to look past it. As far as visual effects are concerned, The Grand Horror's effects team should be very pleased with the final product. From blood that doesn't scream bad Giallo to an eye gouging that makes you look twice, the film unquestionably delivers on the gorey goodness.
Honestly, watching The Grand Horror was far more fun and entertaining than I had ever expected. At times the on-screen tension outdid recent Hollywood releases that banked on scares but didn't delivery any. I'm glad I got the chance to see the film and am wondering what more we can expect from Dead Lantern Pictures when they have a bit more experience, time, and cash!
3 1/2 out of 5
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