Wednesday, January 20, 2010
You know, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a truly atrocious indie film, but Denizen has broken my winning streak. Denizen, the third feature from action-oriented filmmaker J.A. Steel (The Third Society, Salvation), was filmed in nine days in Steel’s guerilla style filmmaking on film and 24p video. That’s all fine and dandy, but the film looks dated, the narrative is convoluted and the film has major pacing problems, not to mention the film’s horrendous acting and several technical issues.
Now, I understand all the hard work that goes into making a film on a low budget and how some sacrifices in quality have to be made, but the problems with Denizen don’t necessarily stem from the budget and could have been easily fixed. For example, the story could have been tightened up, unnecessary scenes could have been removed or edited and more attention should have been paid to the pacing of the film. It’s a pity the film isn’t better, because there are glimmers of greatness in Denizen…they just never seem to break the surface.
Peace gets shattered in a small town when a mysterious creature starts to leave a bloody trail. The last hope for the residents to fight the terror and prevent the destruction by military forces rests on the courage and the resourcefulness of a small group of scientists.
Drawing on her experience in her first feature film, The Third Society, Steel brings back a tough motorcycle riding main character in form of Sierra Deacon. It is Deacon’s team, consisting of Dexter Maines (Ben Bayless) and Dallas Murphy (Jody Mullins), that has to save the town from the creature. After several deaths, a special Army Unit, led by General Jernigan (Glen Jensen), is called in to contain the creature, or if necessary, destroy the town. It is a race against time to stop the creature and prevent the town from being destroyed.
What makes the film nigh unwatchable? Denizen is a mish-mash of choppy scenes, unnecessarily dialogue, painful acting, a drawn-out and meandering storyline, poor effects, undeveloped characters and a myriad of technical problems like the many static camera angles that made me think I was watching a poorly-acted community theater production. There is so much wrong with this film that future filmmakers should watch it to see what NOT to do when making a film…this is definitely a Z-grade horror flick.
On the plus side, a major highlight of the film was watching J.A. Steel’s kick ass character of Sierra Deacon. Her gruffness and take-charge attitude made it hard to take my eyes off of her! Plus, her character has a nice twist that is one of the only cool things that happens in the flick (and its idea of the “monster within” really should have been developed more). J.A. might not be cut out for filmmaking, but she was the only decent actress in the entire production! Her performance was pretty much the only pleasurable thing about watching Denizen.
I wholeheartedly support indie filmmaking, especially when helmed by a woman director, but I can’t sugarcoat the fact that this film is just downright awful. I may support indie filmmaking and women filmmakers, but only when the movie is actually worth championing!
Visit Denizen’s Myspace!