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Saw 'Totem', being fond of horror regardless of budget (even if not my favourite genre) and being intrigued somewhat by the idea. Being behind on my film watching and reviewing, with a long to watch and review list that keeps getting longer, it took me a while to get round to watching and reviewing it.
Giving 'Totem' a fair chance with being interest and apprehension, it turned out to be far better than expected. Won't say that 'Totem' is a great film because it isn't and the potential, while not wasted, is not fully lived up to. Considering the large number of films seen recently being mediocre and less and wasting potential, was expecting worse and was relieved that while wanting in a fair few areas it was actually one of my better recent low-budget viewings.
'Totem' started off quite well, the first twenty minutes or so starting the film off on a promising, unsettling and atmospheric note that really does intrigue.
Production values did have some eeriness and nowhere near as cheap as expected, and the music, which not the most memorable in the world, didn't detract from the atmosphere.
The setting is effectively spooky and some of the lead acting at times was not bad. There are spooky and suspenseful moments and it isn't dull. The direction doesn't feel phoned in and the storytelling in the first half does intrigue.
However, the story was severely wanting in the second half after starting off promisingly. It is very disjointed and after the promising start the final third especially loses atmosphere, one loses interest and things start to not make sense. Too much of the film is vague and doesn't explore some elements and story strands enough, some dropped soon after being introduced, go nowhere or serve much point.
Ending is unsatisfying, on top of feeling hasty there are too many loose ends hanging in the air. Got the sense that the writers didn't know how to end the film. Would have liked much more tension and suspense, scares could have been more consistent and some weren't surprising enough.
Found too the script to lack natural flow and with a bit of cheese going on, and the characters bland with some adopting some annoying and not always logical decision making. The support acting is even more problematic than the second half's storytelling, at best it was poor and too often terrible.
Overall, better than expected but not great still. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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