I spent the entire weekend at The Rapture Horror Expo in Mesa, Arizona. It was a great experience. I got in with a press pass and was able to record our podcast, The Gorram Nerd Hour with Brian Smith, as well as get several interviews for you all to see soon. The should be up later in the week. You can find them at http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour or http://gorramnerdhour.blogspot.com. A few of the girls from The Black Dahlia Haunting were there. I had a chance to sit down with Devanny Pinn and talk about the film which had its Southwestern premiere last night.
Before I get into the bulk of the review I would like to say that this movie was made over the course of three weeks for $1000 roughly. The cut I saw still had a temp music score and the sound mix was not done. There is still work to he done on this film.
The story for The Black Dahlia Haunting is as follows – a young woman named Holly, abused by her father had run away at an early age. She had a young half brother who doesn’t know her. The brother had just murdered how parents and was locked in a mental institution awaiting trial. Holly comes to see him. As the movie begins to unfold we find that her brother is blind and drawing beautiful detailed pictures of Elizabeth Short aka The Black Dahlia. At the same time Holly is having very vivid dreams of being tortured. That’s when the haunting begins.
The movie was obviously low budget. Some of the performances were great. I really warmed up to Devanny Pinn as she began to play the possessed version of Holly. She really took to the role and had a lot of fun with it. Noah Dahl who played her brother was amazing. He is a 14 year old genius in real life who seems able to do anything he sets his mind to. The weakest performance in the film was Britt Griffith. He seemed very stiff at the start of the film, very unsure of himself. He was never an actor before this. He was known for Ghost Hunters on SyFy. Even he wasn’t bad as the movie progressed. He really seemed to take to the role about midway through the production. I see potential in him even if he isn’t quite there yet.
The cast is rounded out by the lovely Jessica Cameron and Sarah Nicklin. They both came in for brief roles in the film. Alexis Iocono came in to play Elizabeth Short and was very good, especially her flashback scenes in 1947. But the person who stole the show is Monster Man Cleve Hall. I don’t want to give away what he does in the film but he was fantastic in it.
I am grading on a curve for this film as I was given a lot of background about it before doing this review. But I did enjoy it and I really loved talking to the actresses from the production. They were so kind and beautiful and very full of enthusiasm for the project. The reason I say I am grading on a curve is because if this movie had cost $1 million and came out this way I would be more critical. I still do want ti say a few things I noticed and didn’t like. First, there was an overabundance of establishing shots. Holly says she’s leaving for Los Angeles and then we see the Hollywood sign, then an airplane, then Holly in the plane, the a shot of a plane landing, then shots of Los Angeles traffic, then some buildings before Holly goes into a hotel. And this happened a few times. It almost seemed like they were padding their running time a bit. Some of the camera shots were repeated too many times. And every time there was a flashback to 1947 there was a title card that said “1947”. Once would have been enough.
Overall it was a nice take on a true crime that remains unsolved to this day. There was some really great ideas I think they almost succeeded on and would have with the proper budget. I’m going to give it 2 1/2 out of 5 stars. I see what they wanted from this movie and they succeeded more than they failed. And they wouldn’t have failed had it not been for the budget issues.
The movie has yet to gain a distributor but is playing the festival circuit right now. If you have a chance to see it I would tell you to go in with the mindset that this was a labor of love and made almost for free.