Working from an original body of work, director and co-writer Griff Furst adapted his screenplay from the book “Cold Moon Over Babylon” (1980) by Michael McDowell {RIP 1999}, who co-wrote the script Beetlejuice (1988); delivers an enjoyable with bleak moments story, likely to fly under the radar for many horror fans, as it presents more as crime drama for the majority of the film, before layering creepiness in 88-minutes. It comes with a few supernatural twists and achieved distribution thanks to Uncork’d Entertainment, with features at a brisk pace and the collaborations of the actors’ roles to steady an otherwise overabundance of material from the book saturating the audience.

In 1989, the murder of a teenage girl Margaret (Sara Catherine Bellamy) shocks a quiet town in Florida, as she rode her bicycle doing errands for her mother, a surprise attack by someone on a distant bridge, the crime alarms the residents and shocks Sheriff Hale (Frank Whaley (Vacancy [2007]), both with loss of words, and sense of bewilderment for how to handle the situation. Her brother Jerry (Chester Rushing), and her mother, Evelyn (Candy Clark (Cherry Falls [2000]), losing mental controls their lives in anguish demanding results from the Sheriff while, seeking vengeance. The Larkin’s believe Nathan (Josh Stewart (The Haunting of Molly Hartley [2008]) Redfield, (a wealthy family) committed the crime, just one problem lack of evidence, meanwhile he denies all of it, his attention stays on his cruel father James (Christopher Lloyd) and the secret romance with Hale’s cheerleader daughter, Belinda (Rachele Brooke Smith (The Cloth [2013]). Nathan has his secrets and issues, living a dual life as a man of professionalism and a seeker of forbidden desires. The entire plot spins a tangled web over the River of Styx, as the supernatural abounds to reveal ghoulish consequences, basically the dead seek revenge and nothing stops their intent. The story involves far too many subplot details, likely trying to cram in more of the book’s details than is actually necessary for the viewers need to understand and enjoy the film. As the movie maintains a steady and well-paced production, these details either stumble the story or become unexplored offshoots of the main thread of the tale.

Furst presents a wonderful opening sequence of the movie which grabs the audience’s attention, then keeps solid visuals and an interesting score, all working to keep the content of the screen enjoyable for mysterious ghost flick. In addition, to avoid some stagnant moments, the filmmakers keep gothic aspects and staging for the scenes, which might escape the importance for some audience unfamiliar with the classic haunted house movies, but all of it necessary when dealing with a low budget, where every dime is carefully used.  Lloyd and a few others provide a cameo or small roles seen their minor appearance more as name quality rather than a major importance of the storyline, often one hopes to use other actors perhaps even the secondary character actors, known for the craft to perform these roles, rather than just a name person for the DVD cover.

First, it’s great that a filmmaker took the path of using a book to create horror movie, though to be honest it’s more of a thriller with crime drama layering throughout than straight-up horror. Once you realize that the horror aspect limits themselves to the brutal killing, ghosts apparitions and gothic design then you know what’s left in the small town of an overwhelmed sheriff, gossip and sleuthing.

IMDb Rating: 4.3/10

Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10