In last 10 years, thanks to the advancements in digital medium and inexpensive cameras which have ability to shoot high resolution images, we have seen a flurry of Films made on shoe string budget , almost everybody with enough passion for films is able to make a film today.. all that really matters is getting a crew of like minded people together. What this digital advantage has resulted in is a barrage of films .. mostly ,not so good- the reason being over ambitious projects, bad acting and weak screenplay and story structure.
When you try to incorporate a lot of elements in the film which might make it look glossier and more expensive then it actually is, it falls flat on the face, as these elements ends up making the film very artificial and fake ( for example-badly executed SFX or make up work done by using jelly and ketchups ) but then there are few gems who know their constrains and use it to their advantage –the perfect example of it being the films like-The Blair Witch Project, After, 2000 Maniacs, Hamiltons ,Blood Car, REC and I can go on and on.
Recently I got a chance to watch Dead Mary a Canadian film directed by Robert Wilson , which left quite a impact on me.. there is nothing more fun than watching a film which looks bigger than itself, Dead Mary inherently is a horror/supernatural flick but it has been crafted really well, it seems like a mix of ‘The Thing’ (John Carpenter) and ‘Evil Dead’(Sam Raimi), the acting is very good through out and plot devices work pretty well most of the time.
Now the nitty-gritty’s of it, Ahem, well there are things which you don’t do when you are inside a horror film, those are rules- if you break them , you will end up facing severe consequences.
Rule 1 : you never take a weekend trip with your friends into the woods to spend a night in a cabin or a camp by the lake.
Rule 2 : If you have broken the 1st Rule then while you are in your Cabin by the lake you Never- never-ever discuss Urban legends or mock at them .
Rule 3 : Now that you had been stupid enough to break both the above rules- you still Have a chance if you decided not to venture out on a exploration trip into he Woods ,all on your own.
Rule 4: You don’t do Drugs
Rule 5: You don’t have Sex- only Virgins make it out alive.
Rule 6: Try not to be a pervert/cock-sucker/creep/bitch/slut –whom everyone in the group hates but still hangs out with em- you will be the first one dead n the grand scheme of things .
Rule 7: When you are lost in the woods and you find a small shack and you want to call some one for help because obviously your cell-phone isn’t working- don’t you dare go knocking at their doors and shouting out the three magic words "Hello! Anybody home."
Rule 8: Don’t ever say “I will be right Back” thats the last thing your friends will hear you say.
Rule 9: when you have sealed your self inside the cabin or the house, make sure you double check..there is always a open window that you would have missed..and then triple check and then check again.
Rule10 :If you hear a sound in the attic..Dont run out of the house in panic,the sound could be a rat or beaver for all that you know.
The bunch of friends in Dead Mary breaks all of the above rules and more- so they obviously will have to face the consequence, Of course they will- only this time, its not “a stranger with a ugly face behind the mask walking with a hatchet/chainsaw in the woods” instead they are pitted against each other, which makes the proceeding even more suspenseful .
Here is how it goes – A bunch of Six friends, heads out into the woods for a long weekend, they get bored-get drunk and decide to play a game involving a Urban Legend, the game is actually pretty simple- you carry a candle, stand infront of a mirror , switch off that rooms light and then you look at your reflection in the mirror and say Dead Mary thrice- if you do that, Dead Mary shows up and bad things happen. So far so good (in been there, done that sort of way) but then Dead Mary doesn’t really shows up, instead it possesses one of the friends and turns him into a killer , this is where the tension arises as all the cast is able to figure out the ploy of one of them getting possessed and being turned against all the others, and they figure it out pretty early in the film- but they cant find a way to figure out which one among them is really possessed. Dead Mary becomes a red herring of sort as what ever is happening to the group may or may not be Dead Mary.. there are hints at the forest being possessed by evil spirit even before the group arrived (one of the plot device).
Its not a great film, its not even a film that will gain a cult status in the future,it doesn't deserves one (for heavens sake it’s a PG-13 film, ever heard of a PG-13 film which went onto become a cult classic..!!??) but there are quite a few good things that the film has going for itself,For example the laid back first act, which takes its time in establishing the character, the first death happens after 40 mins of runtime in the film, the Cinematography is brilliant ,using a very saturated pallet when it starts and then reducing the colour scheme to blue and red and gray by the time its over ,this is one element which raises the standard of what could have been a very lame and run of the mill affair, Acting is pretty good and screenplay is pretty potent because it makes a mediocre story into a good film, unfortunately- the third act of the film is where the film fails, the director is not able to use lot of plot devices that he has introduced earlier in the script therefore all you get is potential set pieces one after another but no proper closure to them, understood too much of exposition is never a good idea but establishing a device and not using it in the favor of the film or not using it all -is even worse ,and the film ends all to suddenly, I wish and hope that the director realizes this and releases a directors cut with a extended ending of the film. But even with all those issues , I personally find Dead Mary to be a pretty entertaining ,lesser known film done on a very low budget. Give it a chance and if you watch it with a open mind, it wont disappoint you.