TEN Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Directed by Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein
Written by Sophia Cacciola, Michael J. Epstein, Jade Sylvan, and Sarah Wait Zaranek
2015, Region 0 (NTSC), 81 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on April 21st, 2015
Jade Sylvan as the renegade
Molly Carlisle as the religious fanatic
Molly Devon as real estate investor
Porcelain Dalya as the coed
Ten disparate woman converge on Spektor Island in 1972 under false pretexts, drawn by “Ten”, who has summoned them anonymously...to their death. One by one the women are picked off, as they desperately try to find out why they are being targeted by the mysterious Spektor Island ghost.
Let’s be clear: TEN is super cheesy. Troma-cheesy, people. The quality of the video is basic; it looks like a web series shot on a DSLR. The editing is bad; there are long gaps of silence between the woodenly delivered lines. Most of the acting is stilted and a few times it seemed like the actresses were stumbling over their lines or forgot what happened next, and directors Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein didn’t reshoot the scene. The plot is confusing and the writing is peppered with as much lunacy as brilliance, and most of that brilliance is tempered by the weak acting and directing.
And yet despite all that, it’s fun to watch. Especially for that magnificent twist at the end...
The press releases for TEN tout this story as an exploration of female identity. Each of the characters is assigned a rigid stereotype: the innocent cheerleader, the tough girl rebel, the money-hungry investor, the devout Bible-thumper. The plot then aims to challenge those stereotypes and prove that (in their words) “no one is who they seem”.
When we discover that these women are not what they seem, I certainly expected their true identities to emerge and dictate their behavior. The investor, in actuality an artist, would stop caring about Saint Tropez and $400 bottles of champagne. The coed, a scientist undercover, would forego talking about her boyfriend and begin to hypothesize escape plans. But the zealot provides a fascinating reason why that doesn’t happen: We start to believe the things that are said about us.
As the zealot mourns the loss of her individuality; that the script given to her took over her life and made her something new, the renegade tells her, “You must be especially weak-minded.” The zealot counters that the renegade herself changed her body, her language, her instinct to become “Ten”. They all fell victim to the role given to them and lost who they were in the meantime.
It’s an incredibly powerful message coming from a female director (and co-writer) and cast, in an age where roles are particularly bleak for woman. Men’s roles are only slightly more forgiving, but blockbuster films still happily fit women and men into cookie cutter roles that rarely reflect the diversity and uniqueness of the viewing audience.
I do want to give a quick shout out to Kelly Davidson’s cinematography and Danielle Myers’ lighting. They did a LOT with a seemingly small budget and created some downright beautiful murder scenes.
There’s so much more I could say about this movie, but the best thing to do is check out TEN and then make up your own mind. No one should tell you what – or how – to think.