Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fever Night aka Band of Satanic Outsiders (2009)

Have you ever been so blown away by a film that it left you at a loss for words? That the film was just so rad that to try to describe it in words would do it a disservice? For a reviewer like myself, this can be quite problematic. On one hand, I got to see an amazing film that melted my face off with its awesomeness, but on the other hand its hard to describe to others just how good it was, leaving me with a bit of writer’s block.

Well, Fever Night definitely leaves me feeling inadequate in the face of its genius.

Fever Night (or Static Age aka Band of Satanic Outsiders) is an acid-trip, psychotomimetic horror film about three Satanists who are faced with serious repercussions after going into the woods one night and worshipping the Devil. The trouble starts when Terry (Melanie Rose Wilson) is accidentally run over as the three try to get their car out of some mud. This leaves Elliot (Peter Tullio) and Warren (Philip Nolan Marlatt) to traipse through the dark woods towards a bright light hoping to find help…

As their desperation to get out of the forest increases, they come across foreboding signs like dead birds, animal skulls, anthropomorphic foliage…and Satan himself. Will they be able to survive their descent into Hell or are their fates already sealed?

Fever Night is an independent, low-budget production that took over two years to make. As filmmakers, writers and directors Jordan Harris and Andrew Schrader say themselves on the film’s Myspace page:

“This truly independent production – lit primarily with portable work lamps and shot by a crew of three [Jordan Harris, Andrew Schrader, Steven Getz] – launched pre-production from a parent’s floor with stolen grant money from the filmmakers’ alma mater.

The shoestring budget increased gradually over the two-year production; as the two directors pooled every dollar they could from odd jobs like writing final exam papers for lazy college students.”

Considering this is the filmmakers’ first film (not to mention their meager budget), I am absolutely blown away by the high quality of the film in everything from the directing to the writing to the acting to the cinematography to the score! Absolutely every single piece of the film fits beautifully into the overall picture and everything comes together to form a top-notch film. This is the kind of film most first-time filmmakers (or hell, even experienced filmmakers) WISH they could make!

The film’s look is very retro, right down to the opening titles and the trippy music by the band Thee Oh Sees. The film itself is slightly grainy, giving it that grindhouse grit of films from the ‘70s. Though the film is set at night, there is an impressive use of psychedelic colors used throughout that just adds to the retro atmosphere and makes you feel as if you are running through a Dario Argento color palette (think Suspiria psychedelics). Though the primary lighting equipment was merely work lights, I loved the lighting in Fever Night. It adds to the dizzyingly disorienting atmosphere of the film and really makes it feel like you are alongside Elliot and Warren, trying to find your way through the hellish forest with just a pair of flashlights.

Besides the hallucinatory look of the film, the special FX are also top notch. We are treated to many freaky instances, including bloody bird carcasses, a goat skull that bleeds and floats on its own before morphing into Baphomet, bloody wounds, someone that comes back from the dead to haunt the remaining friends (with some killer makeup effects to match) and so on. All of the effects used were believable and looked real, a feat that most independent productions have a problem pulling off. This may not be a gore-drenched picture, and it doesn’t need to be. The effects used throughout are enough to jar the viewer.

Now, one thing that indie productions usually lack is good acting…but again, Fever Night succeeds where most others fail! The three lead actors, Melanie Rose Wilson (“Terry”), Philip Nolan Marlatt (“Warren”) and Peter Tullio (“Elliot”) do an amazing job of bringing their characters to life and making them believable, especially after encountering all the crazy satanic stuff they see. Some actors may have been tempted to play their characters as over-the-top, but these three “keep it real” and rein it in to give credible, strong performances. I especially liked Marlatt’s portrayal of the meek Warren, who slowly but surely loses his innocence as the night progresses.

Fever Night is a mind-blowing acid trip of a film that takes you through themes of life and death, good and evil with a healthy dose of disorientation and debauchery. This is one of the best independent films I’ve seen this year and I definitely see it making my “top 10” list at the end of the year. I could try to sing its praises all day long, but in the end it truly must be seen to be believed…

Visit Fever Night’s Official Site!

Visit Fever Night on Facebook!

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