A teenage boy, played by “Desperate Housewives” star Shawn Pyfrom, befriends an escaped mental patient (a John Doe played by Reed Diamond) who has no recollection of his identity or past. He’s given an experimental drug to induce memories of his past because, as a teen, he was found on the side of the road covered in blood. Due to the drug, he now sees visions of horrible murders being committed and of a big sludge monster. In the mean time, the boy has his own problems; he has no friends, his stepfather (Greg Grunberg) is abusive and his mother (Lucy Lawless) is an alcoholic. Lately, his stepfather’s been going out late at night with a camera. His mother suspects he’s seeing another woman. Together, the boy and the man begin an investigation of the boy’s stepfather and what he’s hiding in his darkroom.
I had never heard bout this movie until Anchor Bay sent it to me for review so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s from the producers & writers of Room 6 (2006) with Jerry O’Connell. Before viewing this DV I decided to check out the cast and I was pleasantly surprised to see Lucy Lawless (“Zena”) and Greg Grunberg (“Heroes”). So I went into this with moderate expectations. What I got surprised me because it is very good for a low-budget, direct to video release. Don’t let the sludge monster part mislead you into thinking that this is your standard cheesy Sci-Fi monster film with no plot. The monster isn’t that big a part of the movie and he’s not what you think. It’s more thriller than horror but still horror (I consider serial killing as horror).
The story concept is pretty unique. It involves a serial killer and amnesia. There’s plenty to take in and suspect. It’s a two-fold story; one part the man’s past, one part the boy’s current situation. It makes for a movie that doesn’t bore. Cool twist at the end but one with plenty of plotholes. You need to just accepts certain things in order to better enjoy it.
The acting is very good. I think Reed Diamond does great as the mental patient without a name and who is quiet. He has the image down pat and you can’t help but like. Shawn Pyfrom is good as the teenager, Stanley. Lucy Lawless is convincing as the drunken mother, Cheryl. But the best actor here is Greg Grunberg as the abusive husband, Bob, a character who due to Greg’s talent, you just want to hate. The rest of the cast does its part satifactorily.
The SFX are passable. There’s some blood but no gore. The sludge monster’s cheesy but he’s not the highlight of the movie anyway.
Overall, it’s a pretty original concept, albeit with some plot holes, the actors did well and you actually care about them. That’s where this film differs from your standard, low-budget “horror” flick – the acting and character development. Worth a view by horror and thriller fans.