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I was fortunate enough to get to see this film a couple weeks back at
one of my favorite theaters (the Rialto in Pasadena) and the ambiance
of the venue really added to my experience (the Rialto is a grand and
spooky place - you can feel the ghosts that surely live there). My only
wish is that more people turned out for I can only imagine how much fun
it would be to see "Spectres" with a big audience.
Having read about the movie in advance, I knew it was not going to be a horror film. Still, there were several moments in the movie made me jump and based on the reaction of the rest of the audience I was not alone. Also I was surprised at how funny the movie is. It's a good thing too because if this film had taken itself - or its philosophical/spiritual ideas - too seriously, it could have been a disaster. Instead, it wears its heart on its sleeve without shoving anything down your throat. And because the filmmakers don't violate the rules they've created in this world, you walk away at the end, maybe not believing, but thinking it'd be really cool if the ideas expressed were true.
If people come to this film for any reason other than the supernatural elements, of course, they'll be coming for the cast of recognizable sci-fi veterans (so amazing to see David Hedison again - he looks FANTASTIC). It certainly is fun to see so many good actors playing against type. Still, it is the young actress who plays "Kelly" that steals the show. She IS the movie and that's no knock on the other performers, who all do really good work.
Technically, the film is somewhat of a mixed bag in that there's some choppy camera work and the music is often that of a TV Movie. Some of the effects are cool, some are barely serviceable. According to the filmmakers, the movie was shot in high definition, and it has a really unique look to it that seems to fit the mood. Also, the sound effects and design do a lot to add to the spooky and emotionally haunting atmosphere.
Still, technical flaws aside, this is clearly a modest-budgeted picture with huge ideas and an even bigger heart and as such I really hope it finds wide acclaim and success.
16 year old Kelly (Lauren Birkell, soon to be seen in "The Woods" with
Bruce 'the Man' Campbell) spending her deceased father's birthday
alone, since her mom (Marina Sirtis) is busy with work. After a failed
suicide attempt. the mom decides that her daughter needs a change of
scenery at a summer rental house. While there the mom convinces Kelly
to see a psychiatrist. For the most part I liked this film, the actors
all did a pretty good job, and it was fairly engrossing. The last 20 or
so minutes though was a drop in quality in plot if not in quality and
didn't really seem to belong in the film at all. It didn't really make
me totally dismiss the film, just dampened my opinion of it somewhat.
My Grade: C+
I can say without doubt that this it my favourite film Marina Sirtis
has been in (other than the Star Trek films of course)! I loved it.
Excellent film-making too! A supernatural drama is how I would define
this. Laura Lee and her daughter, Kelly (Lauren Birkell), go on a
summer vacation to get to know each other again, after Kelly's
attempted suicide. This would be a basic premise for a family drama but
a supernatural twist is added to the plot. In the moment Kelly died
before being revived, her spirit became lost and mixed up with Renee's
(Linda Park's character) and Kelly takes on some of Renee's traits and
attracts further spiritual attention (in other words ghosts). Marina
displays some of her greatest acting skills to date, in my opinion.
When the psychic Will (Tucker Smallwood) and psychiatrist Dr. Halsey
(Dean Haglund) realise Kelly be brought to the brink of death and be
revived to regain her spirit/soul, Laura Lee gets understandably
extremely emotional and has to be held by Will. Marina does a fantastic
job here; devastation and helplessness are obviously not enjoyable
emotions to act (see quotes below for Marina talking about this scene).
At certain points in the film Laura Lee is an awful mother, not at all
understanding what her daughter is going through. But this must be
because she cannot cope with her daughter's attempted suicide! And she
is a bit of a b*tch towards Dr. Halsey, when she says, "I'm not the one
on your couch, I'm paying you to make us a happy family." But it
appears that the supernatural experiences that mother and daughter go
through, aid them in bonding with each other by the film's conclusion.
The ending is slightly cheesy, with Laura Lee and Kelly a happy family
and going off to explore the creek, but I don't have a problem with
that. Kelly, Dr. Halsey, Will and all the ghosts are all roles that are
cast without flaws. It's always a pleasure to see Marina in anything,
Spectres is fabulous though, a perfect project for Marina, and she gets
nothing but praise from me for her performance.
DVD Review: The actual film is faultless in quality, but the special features seem to be jumpy, the images jerk around and have lines on sometimes. But it's just a huge bonus to have special features, unlike Marina's other recent films on DVD, Terminal Error and Paradise Lost, which have none. It's lovely when the film company put effort in to it. This has deleted scenes, making of the film, trailers and a clip of filming where they thought the house they filmed in was haunted and something moves behind Marina. But it seems to be just a flash of light, even though the makers insist there was nothing that could produce that light! Oooh!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An uncovered Gem! This is a great movie! The trailer sucked, and gave me the impression that it's a low-budget piece of crap with a great...no, AWESOME cast! Curious I got it...I was VERY surprised. Linda Park, (Hoshi from Enterprise) is in it, Marina Sirtis (Troi of Star Trek: TNG), Dean Haglund (Langly, of the Lone Gunmen from The X-files), the sexy Alexis Cruz from Stargate (the film & SG-1), and Tucker Smallwood who has been in so many movies and every major sci-fi TV show in the past decade! The movie had an intelligent story, and though it's called Spectres, it was more about a mother struggling to make life with her teen daughter as close to normal as possible after a suicide attempt. The supernatural aspect is a fresh view (which is rare) on the subject of hauntings. The best thing of all (and worth getting the DVD on its own) was the surprise goose-flesh-raising filming of an actual ghost during a take and can be seen in special features. This is indeed a GEM that needs to be uncovered.
**SPOILERS** Even though the advertising for the movie "Spectres" makes
it look like a ghost story it's a lot deeper and philosophical then you
would have first expected it to be. The film is about two persons who
become connected through death and how it in the end fulfills both of
their wants and dreams that they couldn't have while they were still
alive. Kelly Webber, Lauren Birkell, is very depressed over the loss of
her dad at an early age and the loss of her mom Laura, Marina Sirtis,
who never has time for her due to her job as a CPA at a large
accountant firm in the city.
As we see Kelly watering her front lawn at the beginning of the movie Linda, Renee Hansen, pull up with her van asking Kelly for directions to the local mall. Linda, together with her young son C.J ,Alexander Agate, seems to be a bit concerned with Kelly as if she could read her mind. Later that evening Linda get's killed in a car accident, her son C.J survived, and Kelly attempts to kill herself only to be brought back to life at the hospital.
After recovering from her suicide attempt Mrs. Webber takes her teenage daughter Kelly to their summer home in the country to spend more time with her but just then things start to happen to both of them that are beyond the world of the living. At first thinking that Kelly is suffering from the aftermath of her suicide attempt Laura sends her to a psychiatrist Dr. Halsey, Dean Haglund. Dr. Halsey after examining her and seeing for himself what's happening to Kelly, and her mom back home, feels that whatever Kelly is suffering from is out of the realm of science and reality and goes to his friend Will Franklin, Tucker Smallwood, a psychic for help. It turns out that something strange and paranormal happened when both Kelly and Linda died,Kelly was resuscitated back to life,and it's that incident in death that somehow connected the two in life.
"Spectres" is a lot like the famous James Stewart film "It's a Wonderful Life" in that it shows how precious one's life really is and, no matter how bad things are, throwing it away would not make things any better but make them much worse when one realizes what a mistake he, or she, made by doing that. You start to see, like Kelly does, what a waste it is when you give up the most precious gift that God gave you. At the same time you see through Linda, how after losing her life, how she took advantage of Kelly's mistake to make life better for her orphaned young son, C.J. Linda did this by getting Kelly to, sub-consciously, track down C.J and find his dad Sam Philips, Chris Hardwick; so that C.J can have someone to look after and care for him as he grows up into adulthood.
The ending of the movie "Spectres" turns out to be a happy one for both Kelly and the deceased Linda with Linda's son C.J reunited with the father that he never knew. Kelly and her mom end up finally being together and spending more time with each other like they should have before the loneliness and void of being alone and unloved drove Kelly to kill herself at the beginning of the movie.
With the name and the description, it's easy to mistake this as being another edge-of-your-seat, thrill-ride horror movie. It's anything but. Apart from having a supernatural aspect to it, it's pretty much an after-school special sort of film. Its PG-13 rating isn't even needed. The suicide element is so brief and tame, that this could still easily be rated G (remember, G doesn't have to mean kids, it just means General Audiences). The interesting thing is that, when the credits finally rolled, I was satisfied with what I'd seen. Imagine that, a movie that doesn't go for the kill and just wants to entertain you with a decent story for an hour or two. The script is...OK, the dialogue is... acceptable, the acting is good, for the most part (this movie is rife with underrated actors that are much more talented than they've ever been given credit for). What I find interesting is that everyone comes across as real people. Not "good actors," just your regular, flawed bozos found on every street corner. When Julia Roberts or Tom Cruise are on a screen, you get drawn-in, but it's always "them." Marina Sirtis, on the other hand, makes you believe you're watching a typical house-mom type, not an actress, who's both kind and overbearing under different circumstances --just as a real person might be. There's a scene towards the end that'll have you wanting to give her a medal for realistically portraying someone in emotional agony, and not simply "oh, the script says I'm supposed to scream here." So, overall it's not a blockbuster, and it's not something you'll want to rush out and tell your friends about. Heck, some of the metaphysical/religious concepts used are so... well, let's just say I don't subscribe to them and politely leave it there, suffice to say they're a bit corny and detracting, in an amalgamated "I've read a lot of spiritual books, but don't really know a thing about it" sort of way. But, I gave this one an "8" score for one very good reason: It accomplished what it set out to do, and it did leave me happy that I'd watched it. With Hollywood pumping out multi-million dollar blockbusters with tons of FX and no story on a regular basis, how often can we really say that about a film these days?
Soul Survivor (listed as Spectres on IMDb) is a little different than a
lot of movies I see on Lifetime Movie Network. This is a tale of a
teenage girl, Kelly (Lauren Birkell), who is lonely and depressed, as
her father has passed away and her mother, Laura Lee (Marina Sirtis),
is too self-involved. After Kelly attempts suicide, Laura Lee takes her
to live in a home in the country for the summer. Before even settling
in, Kelly meets a mysterious boy and she begins to experience unusual
happenings in the house.
I liked this movie but I had to pay close attention, as it seemed a little choppy in places and it had a lot going on. Lauren Birkell does a nice job, as does Alexis Cruz. Marina Sirtis' character is annoying but I suppose she is supposed to be that way for the story. She does give a realistic portrayal, though.
Just came from the North American premiere, that happened at Cinequest in
Marina Sirtis, as well as Tucker Smallwood, Linda Park, the director (Phil Leirness) and script writer (Bud Robertson) were there, and we had a nice Q&A session with them at the end.
The movie was very good - I'd say excellent if it weren't for one thing:
The actors and director basically took the script in a completely different direction than the writer wanted initially. Which is a good thing, for the most part. However the end result is that the film cannot really define itself as a thriller/ghost story (like it originally was supposed to be) nor a like anything, really. It has ingredients of thriller, but it is mostly about a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship with some details of paranormal but without taking itself too seriously.
What makes it a very good movie is basically two things: wonderful performances by an ensemble cast that was hand picked (and will definitely attract lots of sci-fi fans, with well-known Trek alumni plus Alexis Cruz from Stargate/Stargate SG-1) and the fact that the underlying plot of the mother daughter relationship IS very interesting and very well played out.
The ghost story basically comes out as a plot device. This no Six Sense, no X-Files. :-) The actors and the director didn't take the ghost story seriously and that shows. :-) But that's OK - honestly, it makes the movie more interesting and fun to see.
Anyway, they said they've found an international distributor and a national one may be in the works - as soon as they figure out how to categorize this movie. If they do find a way - go see it. Even if you're not a fan of any of the actors, their work really deserves your 90 minutes (and $9).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I saw Marina Sirtis in the opening scenes I thought that she
looked familiar, but couldn't pinpoint where I saw her. But then I
checked her bio and realized she was in one of those really awful "Star
Trek" spin-offs. Naturally, she gets cast in a cheesy
horror/drama/comedy(?). The movie was so forgettable that I kept
focusing on Marina's lips, simply because they look exactly like Meg
Ryan's, post-lip-enlargement. And Lauren Birkell looks a lot like Thora
The movie promises at the very outset that it will do its best to rip off "The Sixth Sense" and it doesn't disappoint in that regard. However, while TSS remains somber throughout, something strange happens in this low-budget little movie: half-way through the film, the characters get quite smart-ass-like, things get decidedly tongue-in-cheek, so for a moment there I thought this might become a sitcom. However, dormant comedic passions of the writer and actors settle down, and the movie ends dramatically, without comedy.
The problem with this movie is that after the quick, effective introduction, things move at a slow pace. Plus, there are several scenes that do very little for the plot or characters but just serve as fillers. There are also lines in the dialogue that sound awkward. The best example would be the black psychic saying "How dare you?!" to the shrink; I thought that was worthy of a MST3K stinger! More problems come in the form of bad acting, and I'm referring to the Asian kid and his father. And guess whom they cast in this "serious" movie to play the long-lost Daddy? That IDIOT from that 90s MTV dating show with Jenny McCarthy! What were they thinking? Btw, that "hot-shot" is the son of a bowling "legend". I know, I know: yet more nepotism in movies. And yes, I KNOW: "bowling" and "legend" can't possible go together, it's an oxymoron.
For a movie that is about ghosts, lost souls, and haunted houses where things go "bump", there sure is a severe lack of atmosphere. When a cup of coffee is spilled on the ground it's just boring. The movie just looks and feels flat. As flat as Keira Knightley's pitiful pair...
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