(director/writer: Ted Geoghegan; cinematographer: Robert Patrick Stern; editor: Lisa Hendricks; music: Blitz/Berlin; cast: Anne Ramsay (Marla Sheridan), Ron E. Rains (Bob Sheridan), Jeremy Holm (Mjr. Archibald Stanton), Larry Fessenden (Lt. Col. Clive Hockstatter), Ezra Buzzington (Mjr. Paul DiFranco), Lucy Carap (Susan Hockstatter), Kristina Klebe (Hildegard Baumann); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Seth Caplan/Emily Gotto/Michael Paszt/Pasha Patriki/Sarah Sharp; Shudder; 2023)
“It can be enjoyed as an old-fashioned chamber-piece, with some added morbid modern-day visuals to stir things up.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Ted Geoghegan (“Mohawk”/”We are Still Here”) is the writer/director of this stagy but vibrant World War II supernatural thriller set in a Brooklyn brownstone, on December 1945, the first holiday season after the end of World War II. Lt. Col. Clive Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden) has called five close friends who experienced the war but in different ways to meet in his house and participate in a seance he will perform to try and reach his late wife, Susan, who committed suicide a few weeks earlier.
Tinged with horror pic images and a morality-play like search for truthful answers, the pic exposes everyone’s story and prejudices to further scrutiny. The talented director takes a familiar set-up for an occult film and spins it differently. It’s filmed by a director who has a good ear for military stories (his father was in WWII, and knows how how to get the most out of a low-budget film).
The friends at the seance are: Marla (Anne Ramsey), a war correspondent known for roughly interrogating captured soldiers, and is the survivor of a bombing that leaves her walking on a cane. Her timid husband Bob (Ron E. Rains), who had it easier than the others, as he spent the war as a Pentagon bureaucrat clerk, something that his combat friends think makes him lesser of a man. There’s also the closeted Archie (Jeremy Holm) and the only uniformed one present, the bloodthirsty Paul (Ezra Buzzington). None of the characters seem to have fully gotten into the peace time mode and all have guilt feelings about surviving when so many died in the war.
The film clearly shows the difficulty combat vets have of transitioning to peace time and how ‘moving on’ from the war has its own special problems. Ridding one’s inner demons is different for everyone, as seen by the reactions of those at the seance viewing bloody and weird things that keep coming up and offering up some damning confessions.
It can be enjoyed as an old-fashioned chamber-piece, with some added morbid modern-day visuals to stir things up. The actors do a good job of playing broken people who are not very likeable, in a story that has a few dry spots, no fright scenes and too many moments that aren’t suspenseful.
It played at the SWXSW Film Fest.
REVIEWED ON 6/15/2023 GRADE: B