AYLA Review – Wasn’t It Once Said “Sometimes…Dead Is Better?”
Starring Nicholas Wilder, Tristan Risk, Dee Wallace
Directed by Elias
In an effort to sand out the rough edges of decades of grief, a man wills his long-deceased sister back into existence…or so he thinks. I never put a whole lot of stock into the ramblings of intoxicated elderly Maine residents, but good ol’ Jud Crandall hit the nail on the head when he levied that infamous quote from PET SEMATARY back in 1989 (read the headline if ya need a refresher).
Well we aren’t necessarily talking about a road-pizza like former feline here – we’re on the subject of darling 4-year-old Ayla, a sweetheart of a tyke whose life was tragically lost many years ago, and her older brother Elton (Wilder) who is in his thirties, still is having unrelenting bouts of grief over it, even to this day. His feelings of loss have remained so strong that they’ve actually manifested into a belief that she’s returned to the world of the living. With no help from his own mother (Wallace), who claims to have spoken with the dead child numerous times since her passing, his faith has almost been restored to the point where he thinks he’s actually seen her all these years later – immediate therapy, anyone?
As fate would have it (or the reversal of fate), Ayla is seemingly reincarnated by her older brother’s fervent longings to have her back – well, she’s a bit older now and somewhat changed since her original departure from this rolling ball of mud. Aged into an adult (Risk), Ayla, although unable to speak, does associate Elton as her own flesh and blood – problem is, not too many other outside eyes are thinking the same thing.
Directed by Elias (no, not the WWE superstar with the guitar) – the Elias that directed 2012’s gruesome indie-flick, GUT returns to helm this demented tale of sibling-love lost and found once again. Buoyed by performances from Risk, Wallace and a dual-deed from industry workhorse Bill Oberst Jr, the movie has the backbone to effectively creep the jeebies out of you…if it were a perfect world. Because it is far from such, Ayla is one of those missed opportunities that really could have hit the mark with an audience – instead for those whose skin begins to crawl when a hint of incestuous inclination is at hand, you’ll more than likely want to skip this one altogether. Also, I would have loved to have seen a deeper delving into Elton’s character – what besides grief (and a little bit of the skeevies) is the focal point for wanting his sister back after all this time? The path did seem to be traveling towards an acceptable explanation, only to fall off the cliff in the film’s second-half.
Aside from a few unsettling moments and effective scares, Ayla (at least for me) will be best categorized as a one-and-done deal, and if your skin doesn’t get that uneasy feeling when discussing the “love” between siblings, then you could very well dig this movie – for this cat, I’m just going to leave it in the cold dead hands of Mr. Jud Crandall.
Moody, psychosexual and oh so wrong to contemplate – this film centers around the heart of a vulnerable soul, then exploits it to a haunting degree.