IT WAS A MONTH AFTER HER death when we came together for a memorial service of her life. She chose to be cremated; so next to a poster sized photograph of herself, sat a simple carved urn filled with her ashes. I had only met her once; she was my friend’s mother. The memorial service was being performed in a chapel that barely held all of us attendees. I knew very few people so when I arrived I immediately went to sit down after paying my respects to my friend. Being a people watcher, I watched as the guests eventually walked in to take a seat. They came from all walks of life, I must say. Some stood out by the outfits they were dressed in. I cannot say they were inappropriate; let me just say I would never have associated their clothing choices with a memorial service. With that being said, the service was touching as various individuals stood up to give eulogies and share funny stories about the deceased. It was fascinating to see the different facial expressions people had on their faces; if you did not know why everyone was gathered, you couldn’t figure out if it was a sad or happy occasion. AFTER THE SERVICE I ACCOMPANIED my friend back to her mother’s house. She wanted me to help move and store some of her mother’s items and furniture. As we drove up to the house the first thing that struck me was that it looked like it was hand made. The house was tiny and a bit rundown. It needed a paint job and the front stairs sagged in the middle, giving off an eerie sneering appearance. When we entered the house, I was immediately struck by the assortment of either items or devices that were placed in every room. In the living room was a wooden staff leaning up against the wall, that was carved entirely with elephants stacked on each other. On the wall was a framed mirror that caught my eye. The entire frame consisted of tiny human faces that were either carved into the wood or glued on top; it was an odd piece to me. I must tell you I found the whole place somewhat weird. There was a variety of different items; whether they were relics or newer I could not tell. All I know is I was glad when we finally finished and could get out of the place; though after seeing this dramatic mystery horror film, I would rather live in my friend’s mother’s house than join this family in theirs. AFTER HER MOTHER HAD DIED estranged daughter Annie, played by Toni Collette (Please Stand By, Little Miss Sunshine), and her family started to experience odd feelings and occurrences in and outside of their home, as if Grandma never left. With newcomer Miley Shapiro as Charlie, Alex Wolfe (Patriots Day, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) as Peter, Gabriel Byrne (Miller’s Crossing, Endless Night) as Steve and Ann Dowd (Compliance, The Manchurian Candidate) as Joan; I found this suspenseful story creepy and twisted. That was a compliment because I was easily drawn into the film by Toni’s unbelievable acting, along with the rest of the cast and the non-typical script. There were some surprises in the way the story turned and I thought the filming and directing worked in synch to create this foreboding atmosphere. Some of you know I am not a big fan of horror films that have lots of blood and violence; this picture did have a couple of scenes with blood but the majority of it was more of the suspense genre, which I enjoy more. It is funny how you think you know someone then find out later something completely different about them.
It may only take one article of clothing, accessory, family member or friend and you get branded for life by your peers. A sweater you wore may have a spot or small hole that you did not notice, but someone else did and made the assumption you came from a poor family or even worse a dirty family. I have a watch that looks like an expensive, famous brand of timepiece. It always surprises me during a conversation with an unfamiliar person, when i catch them staring at my watch and their mannerisms do a slight shift towards me afterwards. I cannot explain it since I avoid dealing with people who only focus on the surface of an individual. Back in school I had a friend whose dad was a bus driver. I cannot tell you how many times other classmates would make comments about how his dad was Ralph Kramden (if this name is unfamiliar to you then look up Jackie Gleason) or he was the son of a bus driver. Not only did I not understand the reason for these kinds of comments, but I found them cruel. Well, evidently this same kind of labeling takes place among vampires. Lucy Fry (Lightning Point-TV) played Lissa Dragomir, the last vampire of a royal bloodline. After being out on her own in the real world she was forced to return to St. Vladimir’s academy for vampires with her best friend and protector Rose Hathaway, played by Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures, Mayor Cupcake). She was not well received by some of the student body; in fact, some would rather have seen her dead. As if school was not hard enough already, Lissa found herself in the middle of a class struggle. This action fantasy was such a poor production; it screamed of being a Harry Potter and Twilight movie knockoff. The character Rose appeared to be jacked up on huge amounts of caffeine; her speech was more of a verbal blur to me. For the life of me I did not understand why Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing) as Victor Dashkov and Joely Richardson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Event Horizon) as Queen Tatiana were part of this film unless they both lost a bet with someone. The script provided nothing but poor dialog and goofy comments. There were so many opportunities to instill some excitement, tension, thought or even sentimental moments but none of that entered into this boring tale. I hope there are no plans to make a sequel. Though I mentioned I try not to label anyone based on their surface, I may have to reconsider when it comes to the director and writers of this silly vampire fantasy.
1 1/2 stars