Brandon Scullion wrote, directed, and edited his extremely limited budget independent film, which was inspired by director Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, for his first feature film then Live-In Fear (2014) then renamed as Consumption for the distribution deal with Wild Eye Releasing. He designs a creepy ghost story and using the lead character Seth and his mother’s death, as the instruments to bring about suspicious attitudes and issues, while exploiting a wintry landscape of isolationism. As stated, this is his first feature, however, he made many short films and is part of the 60 Seconds to Die (2016) horror anthology in post-production, so his skills are generating more projects at a slow and steady pace.
A group of friends two couples – Becca (Sarah Greyson), Seth (David Lautman), Mallory (Arielle Brachfeld, known mostly or her role in Chemical Peel (2014)) & Eric (Chris Dorman) travel to the snowy Utah mountains for a weekend retreat at Seth’s family’s resort condo. The men sitting in the front seat of the car with Seth driving, happily telling an urban legend ghost story called “bloody bride” who then awkwardly and not too quietly mentions to Eric that his mother died before their trip and he’s the first one he told. Strangely, Becca, who is in the backseat with Mallory, hears Seth confide in Eric and wonders why he hasn’t told her, spoiler alert, no reaction from anyone. This news does not bode well for anyone familiar with horror films a very dark secret, invites an ancient evil. Once at their destination, and the mundane chore of unpacking their car, something spooks Seth, and scurries away when he spots his dead mother (Maria Olsen) on the walkway vanishing before anyone else sees her, how rude. Seth’s off to seek out firewood and tells the gang to head into the building, a slight problem no keys for access. Becca, Mallory, and Eric oddly enough, enters Patrick (Geoffrey Gould) and Patricia (Nancy Wolfe (Mark of the Witch )), appearing to work at the resort, unlock the door for them. A bit of American Gothic (1988), plot lingers into the conversation regard churchgoing activities and Mallory blurts in a crude manner that she’s an Atheist, meanwhile Seth encounters a man named Ferry (Myles Cranford), giving his impression of Crazy Ralph and his name might hint to the Ferryman. Later Seth rejoins the group and Becca tries to mix confrontation and sympathy and it only enrages him further, while Mallory starts to watch a video Seth’s mother saying, “Hi Seth. I miss you”, Seth freaks out and takes the box of videos out to the dumpster. The four main roles do a good job with their parts and effectively show the ranges gradually escalating upwards from calm to possessive and cruel to each other. Their striving for creating chills, lacks conviction and no jolts for the audience to enjoy, leading to an empty feeling of a ghost story which does set the tone nicely that paves the way for misfortune and misadventure.
Setting horror films in the snow is nothing new, except that now they lack yeti creatures or other monsters, but rather retreading the elements found in favorites like The Shining (1980) and The Thing (1982) taking full advantage of the crisp and clean winter air to create a sense of isolation and suspense. Hence, setting in a winter resort (or condo), Brandon’s feature contains significant drawbacks from the budget of $250k, especially for a film trying to reach beyond the limits of script and talent, the location sort of works, but barely. Anyone could take apart a film, dissect and destroy but to what point and extent, yes issues lay with the film, but it ultimately shows the passion to make the movie, expanding on the terror, yet one note allows the box art match the film more closely. In addition, when writing the screenplay understand the environment, such in any wilderness, with freshly fallen snow, and dense forest, silence becomes unnerving, the slightest sounds has a disturbance alarming reaction, and gives a shifting of the eyes and tense body language which conveys suspense for the audience. Then add in crimson blood on the snow, and it builds natural terror for the film, however these elements never come through in the movie. Although, his production bears similar elements to director Jason Robert Stephens’ Necrosis (2009), where a group friends on vacation, in the mountains and one of them hides a secret within themselves.
The movie plods through, as if a normal day, and lacks a desire for the audience to care about any of the characters, a crucial error, factor mainly from not the story overall but rather the interaction of the actors and the sparingly usage of the direction. A story contains an acre and starting point, conflicts, dilemmas and conclusion, herein a complete whiteout occurs for viewers. Then add-in the strangest and oddest transitional footage ever, the absurd time travel psychedelic spinning colors garbage, lacking complete understanding and you discover more inconsistencies, rather than straightforwardness for enjoyment.
Wilderness storylines in general, sometimes take the simple road for scares and make the wildly confusing, mixing more stranger elements, and always risking the viewers, and herein with ghosts, self-mutilation, cults, and rituals battles itself on too many sides for an indie production. Next, the title change, which sometimes work, for the betterment of the project, though this time, leaves one scratching their heads for redefining the concept. Unless, the consumption of sins, torments and doubts which feed our fears, and force one to live-in within their demons in isolation, while consuming the wretchedness confronting it for survival or faced with damnation. Either way, Brandon’s movie gives some time for you to enjoy the popcorn treats even if for barely one seating.
This review originally published in August 2016 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website but obtained 1,559 thanks to the readers.
IMDb Rating: 3.2/10
Baron’s Rating: 3.5/10