HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Sunday, April 15, 2012

AVERSION -- movie review by porfle

A simple but fun story, some neat monster FX, and something of a poor man's "X-Files" vibe make writer-director GF "Jeffrey" Roberts' feature film debut AVERSION (2009) worth watching if you have a taste for low-budget indy horrors.

A good cast is headed by Andrew Roth as seedy P.I. Alex Stokes, hired by Mr. Belial (Richard Flight) to keep tabs on his gorgeous blonde wife Claire (Melantha Blackthorne).  Things get personal when Alex is forced to rescue Claire from an attempted suicide, leading to an illicit affair.  As if that weren't bad enough, complications arise when Claire begins to occasionally turn into a hideous, sharktoothed creature who disembowels people. 

There's a hint of film noir in Alex's rumpled gumshoe whose involvement with a beautiful but deadly dame threatens his undoing.  Roth plays him with just the right amount of false bravado tempered by a yellow streak; this medium-boiled detective looks genuinely scared when a gorilla he serves a subpoena to attacks him, and his attempts at tough-guy dialogue sometimes backfire on him ("My mother told me not to trust a man who doesn't drink."  "I didn't hire your mother.") 

Aside from a couple of seductive moments, the role of "Claire" is definitely on the softer side for the incomparable actress-stuntwoman-filmmaker Melantha Blackthorne (co-founder of Robomonkey Productions) compared to her appearances in such whacked-out romps as SINNERS AND SAINTS and PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED.  That is, until her character's true nature emerges and she becomes progressively more freaky, which suits the actress to a tee. 

Thanks to her delightfully bugged-out performance and some cool monster makeup that gets worse every time we see it--along with some clever film-speed tricks that make her movements jerky and unreal--Claire develops into the kind of old-school, EVIL DEAD-type movie monster that horror fans should take to heart. 

Subtle and not-so-subtle humor (a fistfight between Alex and his beer-swilling buddy Neil features an Indian burn and a painful punch to the buttocks) helps us through some of the slower stretches as the plot meanders through elements of government conspiracy and something about temporal displacement experiments gone wrong. 

The latter results in a whole town full of people getting possessed and turning on each other in a nightmare of carnage--all economically offscreen, that is.  What we do see is a lively and sometimes creepy series of attacks on Alex by Claire and various townsfolk, including a cutely demonic baby who launches itself at our hapless hero like the killer rabbit in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL.  (One POV shot of baby feet flying toward Alex's head humorously recalls KILL BILL VOL. 2.)

Direction and editing fluctuate between iffy and inspired, with shot-on-16mm photography that's a tad murky at times but still nicely watchable.  As mentioned before, the SPFX are mostly in-camera stuff that works exceedingly well at giving the creatures' movements a disturbingly unnatural look.  Some of the jump scares are pretty effective, as is a very listenable synthesizer score that's dotted with cool songs (particularly during the end titles). I viewed a screener of the film so I can't comment on any DVD specs or extras.

The cast also features Marc Raco as rotund comic-relief sidekick Neil and co-scripter Ted Spencer as the reluctant Dr. Cliff, a veterinarian enlisted by Alex to help deal with the Claire situation (which doesn't go well).  In addition to Melantha Blackthorne, the film's babe quotient is nicely augmented by Janette Temerian as Mr. Belial's imposing black-garbed driver, Liz. 

I didn't have an aversion to AVERSION; in fact, watching it was a fairly pleasant diversion.  (See what I did there?)  Most genre fans with a higher tolerance for lower budget fare should find something to their liking here.  And the ending leaves things open for a sequel--will we see "Aversion 2.0"?

No comments: