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Collinsville (2003)

Video  -  Horror  -  22 January 2003 (USA)
4.4
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The terrifying account of an actual Connecticut town where nearly fifty people are slaughtered in a two day killing spree. Who was the killer? Was it a homeless drifter? Or was it Kane ... See full summary »

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Title: Collinsville (Video 2003)

Collinsville (Video 2003) on IMDb 4.4/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Steve Benoit ...
Jeffrey Bates
...
Agent Fitzgibons
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Matt Blake ...
Kane Barker
...
Kane Barker
Hayley Brown ...
Maya Dunn
Nelly Depina ...
Stephanie Lutz (as Natalina Depina)
Jennifer Lawton ...
Jenny
Donnie Moorhouse ...
The Interviewer
...
Agent Thule Masterson
...
Girl in Alley (as Monica Camara)
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Storyline

The terrifying account of an actual Connecticut town where nearly fifty people are slaughtered in a two day killing spree. Who was the killer? Was it a homeless drifter? Or was it Kane Barker, the ruthless axe factory owner who died one hundred years before? Written by Anonymous

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22 January 2003 (USA)  »

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Budget:

$15,000 (estimated)
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1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Impressive, artistically complex and bizarre
7 May 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Collinsville is one of the more impressive low-budget films I've seen, made all the more intriguing by what might just be its presentation on DVD. It is laudably ambiguous whether the film "proper" is only around 50 minutes long, or whether the entire 79 minutes are intended to be the film "proper". Any number of answers is possible, including that the film was extended to 79 minutes only through later reconceptualization. This surely sounds a bit confusing if you haven't seen the film, so let me explain in more detail.

Here's what we literally see on the screen, sans interpretation as much as possible. Collinsville begins with a couple screens of text, ostensibly documentary in nature, explaining that director Dave Horgan set out to make the "Great American Horror Film" for only ten thousand dollars and with a shooting schedule of only seven days. The main body of the film is a story about a girl, Stephanie Lutz (Natalie Depina), who moves to a small Connecticut town, Collinsville, with her dad, Dean (Roderick Tyler). They've come to Collinsville from New York City, where Stephanie and Dean initially say that Dean has just been divorced. Lamenting what she sees as the cultural paucity of small town life, Stephanie easily becomes obsessed, after Maya Dunn (Hayley Brown) tells her of the story, with the legend of Kane Barker, who ran the local axe factory in the 1800s. Barker was supposedly crazy, and may have gone on a killing spree, even offing his wife. When Stephanie starts having graphic nightmares, and a local bum (Matt Blake) starts showing signs of supernaturally psychotic behavior, could the ghost of Barker be involved somehow?

That's presented as the main story. But that's not the end of what we see. After the film is apparently over, around the 50-minute mark, we suddenly cut to Stephanie being interviewed by an official-looking guy. He could be a psychiatrist, a police detective, or something similar. The room looks a bit like an interrogation room. He's going over Stephanie's story with her, and it's obvious that he thinks she's crazy. She grows increasingly agitated, saying that she doesn't care if he believes her, but eventually showing that her story has changed (she now says that her mom died instead of divorcing her dad), and eventually admitting that the "psycho" may have been the bum, and not literally Kane Barker.

Then suddenly, a number of other men enter the same room, taking seats at the long "interrogation table". It turns out to be (ostensibly) the director, writer Marty Langford, director of photography Alan Pierce, and editor Dan McNamara. On a dime, the pretense changes from Depina being interrogated, in character as Stephanie, to the creative crew and Depina talking about the film, as if we're watching a "making of" extra. This proceeds almost banally, at least until Blake and Brown enter. Blake expresses dissatisfaction with the final film, and it turns into something of an argument between Blake and Horgan. Blake storms out. Then we get another brief text screen warning us about the scene to come, and the last scene of the film is a bizarre, Blair Witch Project (1999)/The Last Broadcast (1998)-styled moment, followed by a dubious text claim.

As presented on the DVD, the whole affair has a surreal Andy Kaufman-ish vibe. The first 50 minutes are fairly standard, and clearly fiction, but it's not clear what parts of the last half hour are fiction and what parts, if any, may have been actual documentary material later recontextualized to appear ambiguously as fiction. Whatever the truth is--and I personally think it's better that the truth isn't easily discovered in this case (it gives the work more weight artistically)--the ending was a fascinating way to extend the film. If the whole thing was scripted this way, it's an extremely brilliant exploration of fact/fiction boundaries, but even if most of the ending was documentary and Horgan (or someone else) just added a couple "bits" (like the "psychiatrist"/Stephanie interview) to later recontextualize it, it's still very clever.

As for the main body of the film, the clearly fictional story, whether it's true or not that Collinsville was only shot in seven days with ten grand (keeping in mind the Andy Kaufman-ish possibilities), this is obviously a very low budget, independent film, and in many ways it is one of the more impressive ones I have seen.

The cinematography is superb. It has a very crisp, clean look. It looks incredibly similar to film (rather than digital video, which is apparently what it was). Every scene is well lit. There is a nice mixture of close-ups and midrange shots. There is a lot of very smooth camera motion (it seems like they had a steadicam and/or cranes, whether they did or not). Horgan has an excellent eye for interesting locations, textures, angles and colors. The editing is fantastic. The pacing/timing is good. The musical score is amazingly well done--it's almost impossible to believe that a score this high in quality (compositionally and technically) could be done at this budget, even if we assume that it's from a production music library. The performances and the script are good, especially for this level of film-making. There were a few aspects of the story that could maybe have been better or that could have had more impact (especially given the explanations or reconceptualizations mentioned in the ending, "interview" section of the film), but the story as it is shown is poetic and entertaining, plus the twist at the end is nice (and easy to understand, despite Blake's (feigned?) criticism). In fact, my only real complaint with the film is that the gore level was so low. The "attack" scenes left much to be desired in their blocking, shooting and visceralness.

But that's a small complaint for a film of this caliber. If you're at all interested in experimental or low-budget independent film-making, this is a must see.


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