Aquarius Rising: Dark Ritual Series Vol. 1 Movie Review
Review written by Milos Jovanovic
Written and directed by Brian C. Lawlor
2007, 75 minutes, Not rated
Brian C. Lawlor as Brian
Chris "Moose" Woodin as Sheriff
Shawn McLaughlin as Villian
Dan Hover as Priest
Telsa as Rune Girl
Melissa Vogrin as Bat Girl
When a bunch of interestingly decorated corpses suddenly turn up in a small American town, the local sheriff suspects foul play and calls for backup. His ace up the sleeve turns out to be a disgraced ex-cop, Brian, who also seems to be one of America's finest experts in the field of occult. He is quick to discover that the recent murders are no ordinary fare indeed — the victims were all part of some strange ritual. Using all of his wits and extensive network of contacts, Brian slowly starts to unravel the sinister plot which might be more complex than it initially looks.
The past few indies I reviewed were, I have to admit, a rather pleasant experience. So I take that it's absolutely normal that the very moment I started feeling more comfortable when receiving indie horror discs in the mail, I get stuck with an utter piece of schlock masquerading under the name of "Aquarius Rising". A tedious exercise in filmmaking if there ever was one, Aquarius Rising: Dark Ritual Series Vol. 1 (from now on abbreviated to AR:DRS) is a dull, incompetent flick, bound to appeal likely only to people who have familial or friendly relations to the cast and crew.
The problems of AR:DRS are many, but the biggest one might be the overbearing pretentiousness of the whole project. Laugh-at-the-Law productions, which are responsible for this film, amp up the hype from the word go, inserting a superbly corny line "Based on possible events" into the tagline, and warning the viewer beforehand that "this picture deals with dark themes and might be considered inappropriate for some". As the credits unrolled with a nu-metal soundtrack and images of Aleister Crowley emblazoned across, the fear of dreadfulness slowly began to creep up onto this unsuspecting reviewer.
And, fair enough, AR:DRS barks more than it bites. Backboned by lacklustre directing and editing, the film trudges slowly towards the grand finale, which features a silly twist nobody really needed. The 80-odd minute journey, loaded with faux-scares and weak attempts at grindhouse horror, is enhanced by some hilarious set-pieces featuring some of the worst dialogues you'll ever hear, so brace yourself. The "rituals" you will be seeing are rather feeble affairs, with slapdash effects and atrocious play-acting subbing for genuine satanic mayhem. One particular bit involves two goth-like girl cultists on a prowl for naive horny truckers (such an American staple), whose genitals wind up being sacrificed for unholy purposes. Upon informing their potential victim that they "used to hang out with the vampires", he remarks that "the only thing I know about vampires is that they have to be killed with a stake; I'd sure love to drive my stake into you, though" (not a verbatim quote, but the essence is intact). When the girl answers positively, he exclaims "cock-a-doodle-doo", to which she retorts "well, any cock'll do".
If you do survive the temptation to pop the disc out of the tray at that moment and use it as a frisbee, you will be rewarded with more cringeworthy moments. The best is saved for last, when a decisive incantation is concluded with words "Klattu, Barada, Nikto", and the most persistant will be rewarded with the ending credits, which include such gems as "Make Up: Wtf is make up?", "Production Assistant: would've been nice!" and "whoever invented beer!" under "Thanks" section. Also, we are served a disclaimer that "no peni (sic) were actually hurt in the making of this feature, but many a beer were killed — just to watch them die!". As you can see, they fail not only at horror, but at comedy as well.
Are there any reasons you should watch this, save for humouring the involved in case you're related to them one way or another? Quite frankly, no. While there is ample nudity and cleavage on display, and the acting is not all that awful (minus the high priest for the bad guys, played by Shawn McLaughlin, who is just deliriously over the top), you're best off avoiding this one altogether, as well as hoping that this proves to be the only installment in the "Dark Ritual Series".