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Devastated by the death of her younger sister, Lily Morel seeks solace at the spiritualist community of Cassadaga. But instead of finding closure, she contacts something else - the vengeful ghost of a murdered young woman. With her life crumbling all-around her, Lily races to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding the woman's death - a task that will bring her face-to-face with a sadistic serial killer known only as "Geppetto". Written by
"Cassadaga" is a supernatural thriller that has a lot going for it, but also had loads of missed opportunities.
Kelen Coleman stars as Lily, a young deaf woman art teacher. Kelen is the best part of the film -- attractive and charming, she is instantly likable and easy to root for, which is important in a film like this. Early on, she suffers a horrible tragedy, the loss of her younger sister, and she moves on to take a fellowship at a college in the title town.
It's there that the film makes it first misstep. After setting Lily's situation up, the film has her immediately jump into bed with the first guy she meets. And, of course, he is a doting single father, heroic paramedic, and former sports star -- the Triple Crown of Douchery. The setup parts of the film are dragged down by this unpleasant "romance" and the film only really starts to take off when he exits the scene.
During an early date, Lily goes to a psychic to speak with her dead sister but ends up calling an apparently malevolent ghost. She also starts to see and hear things and general act a little crazy to those around her. Eventually, she starts to tie the spirit to the girl who lived in her room previously who went missing years ago, and also to a shadowy killer who likes to make human marionettes...
As I said, "Cassadaga" has a lot going for it. Kelen is charming and easily carries the film. There are some creepy parts, and the killer's actions are suitable horrific (although "Criminal Minds" had a similar killer who was waaay creepier). But lots of missed chances, too. As I mentioned, the "romance" hurts the film. Lily's deafness is occasionally used to good effect (the audio goes silent), but other times it's almost ignored -- she can flawless read lips, sometimes characters aren't look at her, etc. Also, the killer appears to be an expert ventriloquist (although that's not explored) and Lily would be immune to that. And no matter what happens to Lily, nobody thinks to bring her to, you know, a doctor or hospital. And finally, the killer's identity is easily deduced using Roger Ebert's "Law of Economy of Characters."
Even with it's problems, though, "Cassadaga" is worth checking out. Don't be afraid (or pulled in, whichever may be the case) of its poster, which promises a grisly time. The killer is a very minor part of the film.
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