Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Flicker (2009)

“When all hope is lost, there’s always a flicker.”

This is the basic premise behind the independent horror film, Flicker, for when there is the tiniest bit of hope there is a possibility of a way out from any horrific ordeal.

Of course, the film’s other tagline is “Keep your friends close and your enemy’s shovel”, which shows some of the dark humor that is injected into an otherwise depraved and hallucinagenic journey of survival against the odds.

Flicker is about a weekend camping trip to a small mountain town that goes horribly awry. Pretty (Katy Houska) and her boyfriend Jack (Babak Tafti) wake up in the middle of the night to discover that their friends are missing and have only left behind a bloodied tent. Their horrific journey leads them to discover maniacal cops, homicidal locals and an unforgiving landscape – all which stack the odds against their survival. Somehow, though, Pretty must find a way to cope with the terrifying elements surrounding her and figure out a way to escape the twisted situation.

Flicker is an extremely interesting indie film that stands apart from typical “survival horror” films because of several artistic and creative aspects its story is infused with. First off is the Grand Guignol way the film and Pretty’s mind are introduced. The opening scene features a demon-like announcer, called Pixie (played magnificently by Courtney Bell) on a stage. Her malevolent presence seems to inhabit Pretty’s mind and dreams and her exaggerated painted mouth, makeup and movements make her appear very threatening. Later in the film, Pretty dreams that Pixie is cutting her in half with a massive whirling saw on stage. These scenes give the film a much more whimsical, yet no less menacing, feel. These Lynchian touches really make Flicker stand head and shoulders above most indie horror flicks.

Also on the positive side are all the amazing performances given in Flicker. Kudos to director and writer Aaron Hendren for getting the actors to give it their all! Katy Houska is perfect as Pretty, who starts off as a normal girl but after her harrowing ordeal starts to fray at the edges until she triumphantly is reborn as an ass-kicking machine (and kudos for the actress for shaving her head for part of the role!)! Houska gives a very strong, commanding performance. As mentioned above, I adored Courtney Bell’s performance as the malicious Pixie. Also on the villain side, Kevin R. Elder gave a very eerie performance as the sadistic and sociopathic cop Buck. All of the members of the weirdo family that kidnapped and tortured people by putting them in an itty bitty wood box were phenomenal as well! In fact, there wasn’t one bad performance in the entire film, something a low budget film should be commended on! Plus, you can tell that the cast involved had a lot of fun making the film. There is an adorable lip synch reel that runs through the end credits with most of the cast bloodied up and singing along to the closing song – it’s hilarious and just makes you love the film even more!

For a low-budget film, Flicker looks pretty damn great. Hendren has a great directorial style that really pulls you into the story and his writing makes you care about the characters. The overall look of the film is very crisp, clean and professional and looks close to theatrical quality. There are some truly gorgeous shots of the forest, lake and surrounding countryside. I also loved the grain and color used and even the special FX look realistic and seamless.

My only complaint with the film is that it had a few pacing problems. I think it needed more padding and more going on in the middle, because things got repetitive with watching Pretty stumble through the woods. I also thought that the Pixie character should have been utilized a bit more towards the middle and end, because her character kind of just drops away with no explanation. I also thought the inclusion of another victim, Misty, was unnecessary and most of the action should have focused on Pretty, her boyfriend and their two friends instead of introducing other victims.

However, besides these few flaws I wholeheartedly enjoyed Flicker and loved its odd, hallucinogenic feel. I especially appreciated that filmmaker Aaron Hendren did something different with the whole “survival horror” subgenre and didn’t give us just another Texas Chainsaw Massacre retread. Flicker comes highly recommended!

For more info on Flicker, visit Egg Murders Productions Official Site!

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