Slip Movie Review
Written by Eric "The Hitman" Strauss
DVD released by Maverick Entertainment
Written and directed by Brian Maris
2006, Region 1 (NTSC), 98 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on November 7th, 2006
Don Turner as Cal
Jill Small as Sarah
Hosea Simmons as Tre
Sky Soleil as Tommy
I can't explain why Slip is so good. I've been trying to figure out a better endorsement than "trust me" for three days now.
But the bottom line is, I put this DVD in the player with modest expectations, and 98 minutes later, I hadn't moved from the couch. I was completely enthralled by this little B-movie. In fact, I was — dare I say — riveted to the screen.
But for the life of me, I can't express just why that was so.
On the surface, Slip is an interesting premise — it's billed as "part ghost story, part street story" — made into a glorified B-movie. It's got above-average acting, a good sense of humor and some moments that really tug at the heartstrings. It's also got its share of the familiar and a touch of predictability, although it manages to avoid both the obviously clichéd and the truly, jaw-droppingly awful moments most B-movies have at least one of.
That doesn't sound much like a ringing endorsement. But like its main character, a girl named Sarah who can channel the dead, there's more to Slip than there appears.
The ghost story involves those spirits, which enter Sarah's body and use her to set things right. Sometimes, they bring joy — when a dead mother gets to hold her baby for the only time. Sometimes, they bring pain — when a slain policeman gets a second chance to stop three homicidal robbers.
But Sarah's two biggest challenges are where the "street" part of the equation comes into play.
First, car thief Cal's murdered nephew uses Sarah to protect his uncle. Then, she must face a stranger with a mysterious — and possibly supernatural — connection.
In short order, she must first save Cal's life, and then her own.
Slip handles both angles well, and should have both cross-genre and cross-racial appeal. Don Turner is excellent as Cal, capable of street-smart bravery, cheerful humor and even love. And while Jill Small isn't quite as strong as Sarah, the most impressive parts of her performance come when she is playing someone else. As Sarah channels the spirits, Small changes her mannerisms ever so subtly, and differently for each ghost — a very impressive turn for any actress. All she needs is a little consistency, and she should be capable of even greater things.
Writer/director Brian Maris has crafted a piece that surprises with its range and keeps you on the edge of your seat with its story. As I mentioned, the building blocks are familiar: Street hoods trying to go straight, stolen money, ghostly possession, the phony-occult storeowner, the fat white guy as comic relief in the black underworld. But it's the mix that really makes Slip what it is — that, and the sudden, startling moments when Sarah shifts gears, and souls, and leaves the straight-and-narrow story for a side trip into another plot.
Not only that, but because Maris mixes the two genres pretty successfully, he keeps viewers off-balance, which is the most obvious way he ratchets up the tension and fends off (most) predictability.
The rest of his cast is generally just on the "above" side of average, with Sky Soleil also performing the yeoman work of multiple personalities. And Hosea Simmons, Rob Flowers and the improbably named Hajji Golightly get the job done as Cal's former partners in crime.
Still, it's Turner and Small who carry the film through gun battles, chase sequences and all the drama and eeriness Maris can throw their way.
And, taken as a whole, when you're engrossed in the story, entertained by the humor and enveloped by the tension, you'll be glad you gave this relatively unheralded thriller a chance.
Video and Audio:
Slip is anamorphically enhanced, and the 1.66:1 picture is solid. The film isn't an expensive one, but has few flaws, and the transfer is clear and colorful, handling all but the toughest editing tricks capably.
The screener disc's English Dolby 2.0 soundtrack also is crisp, but according to Maverick, the actual release includes a 5.1 surround track, which should particularly benefit the supernatural sequences.
The screener disc Maverick sent includes no features, but according to the company, the actual release includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and trailers.
Slip hasn't gotten much publicity, but it will surprise anyone who gives it a chance by catching their attention and not letting go. It's an effective, interesting thriller with a dose of humor, and should appeal to fans of the two archetypes it employs: The girl haunted by the dead and the wisecracking Boy in the Hood — both trying to set things right. Turner and Small are the stars of the film, and in Maris' hands, they make it one worth watching.
(Weapons of Choice: Mitsubishi 1080 series 42" TV, Sony DVP-CX995V DVD player, Bose Lifestyle 25 Series II speakers and, in certain situations, Panasonic 27" TV, Panasonic A110 DVD player and Bose TriPort headphones.)
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