The Horror Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by Moondog Media
Directed by Jerry J. White III
Written by Raymond Creamer, Sarah Carman and Jerry J. White III
2015, 80 minutes, Not Rated
Raymond Creamer as Malcolm Rademacher
Callie Ott as Isabell Rademacher
Schell M. Peterson as Scheidler
Chris Oliver as Chris
Horror comes in all shapes and sizes. Just like your crazy ex-lover, scares can be in your face and intense one minute and then make you wait in anticipation for the next hour and a half for the next jump (or just kill you). There tends to be a misconception among some viewers that buckets of blood must flow and possessed dolls and creatures have to be crawling around nonstop for newer movies to scare audiences. Some films showcase the physical and emotional horrors that can happen to any one of us. These can have the most impact and leave more of an affect because of everything being grounded in reality instead of ghosts, vampires and demons. Establishing a convincing atmosphere is just as, if not more important than making people cringe or jump. Jerry J. White III's The Horror tests this method.
The story is told through the perspective of Isabel, who begins the film speaking to her psychiatrist about the loss of her parents in a tragic automobile accident. Her twin brother Malcolm was witness to their deaths. Retreating to their family's vacation home on a lake, the twins and their significant others cannot seem to escape tragedy. Their visit comes to a climax when home invaders break in. Even though everyone survived the horrific ordeal, some things cannot be forgotten and Malcolm begins a slow descent into madness. Once a close pair, Isabel distances herself from Malcolm, who has become unhinged. Isabel is doing whatever she can to forget that night at the lake house while her brother has moved to the lake, renovating it and displaying disturbingly unusual behavior.
The Horror is desperately bleak and unnerving. While there isn't a whole lot going on throughout the film, mood and timing feel like a heavy blanket that covers most of it. Beginning with a home video of Malcolm on a bridge telling of an urban legend, the audience might believe that The Horror will have something to do with local folklore and ghosts. Unfortunately that is quickly dismissed, only to be revisited at the conclusion, completely out of any sort of place or context. For such a low budgeted horror piece, there is great acting and that lead me to believe that there would be moments of solid intensity but as soon as tension begins to build, it is stifled and never amounts to much. The focus of the trauma for Isabel and Malcolm is supposed to be shared between the deaths of their parents and the break in which left the home invaders dead. The audience never witnesses the car accident that claims the parents' lives and the incident at the lake house begins and ends in an instant, making me wonder how such a brief event can really affect characters in such a meaningful way. The scenes where Malcolm has become a loner, eating alone in a restaurant or when he is digging into the frozen lake with an ax are by far the most haunting The Horror has to offer.
If a horror film is going to focus on mood and atmosphere, the plot needs plenty of room to breathe. That way a slow and deliberate buildup can be established and an audience can create their own relationships with the characters, protagonists and antagonists alike. When there isn't enough of a story to tell and everything falls back on being abstract and simple, a decent cast still may not be enough to carry a film to success. This is where The Horror suffers. While Jerry J. White III managed to provide moviegoers with some fantastic bleak imagery and casting was great for a small ensemble, too many plot points are disjointed and not even the better scenes grow enough to leave an impact. The film bookends with another part of the home movie showing Malcolm, perhaps from before the death of his parents, but does nothing to add any meaning or substance. The Horror leaves audiences with just too much setup and not enough resolution.