This is another movie that I heard about thanks to the Nightmares Film Festival. This was the Ohio Feature as this was filmed here in Columbus, Ohio. Aside from that, I read part of the synopsis as I was getting this synced up to play. That is synopsis was a paranormal investigator Felix Fojas (Nicholas Gonzalez) arrives in a sleepy Midwest town to investigate the mysterious loss of his old lover, Amanda (Constance Brenneman), and reconcile sins of the past.
We actually start this with seeing a fire in the woods before taking us to Mandy while she's in her car. She calls Felix and we see he doesn't answer. He is religious and actually punishing himself in the same vein of what Thomas More would. She arrives home and thinks she hears her daughter in her room. When she goes up, her daughter of Sarah (Stevie Lynn Jones) calls and she realizes there's something else in there. She dials 911, the door opens and she's pulled in.
Dr. Thane Noles (Sean Carrigan) arrives home to see the police there. He is taken to see what happened to his wife. They try to keep his daughter away, but also sees her mother dead in the nearby woods. We get to see vines going back into a circle below her. No one seems to see it though.
What happened to Mandy draws the attention of Felix. We get to learn that he was having an affair with her in the past and Thane isn't happy to see him. The two of them get into it and it is thanks to Sarah being there that he stops before anything really happens.
Felix feels there could be something supernatural and that is why he came to this small town in Ohio. We get to see that Christina (Reagan Belhorn), a deaf high school student, is playing with forces beyond her control. She is friends with Sarah to which they're bonding over the grief of both losing their mothers. Christina is the daughter of the principal of the Catholic school and her dad is Father Weller (Thomas Downey). He tries to connect with her, but she is pushing him away.
Felix seeks out the local sheriff of Roy Garland (John Churchill). At first, he really just wants to ask a few questions, but when weird things start to happen, the two try to figure out what is the cause to it. Is this supernatural or are we seeing two teens acting out? There does seem to be forces that shouldn't be messed with regardless.
That's where I want to leave my recap for this movie as I feel that gets you up to speed with what we're working with here. The first thing that struck me was the opening credits. It seems that Felix Fojas was a real person who documented things that he thought were really paranormal. Now personally, I don't believe these things really happened or that these supernatural elements exist, but wanted to at least establish that was there.
The next thing that I should bring up here is that the entity is one that I never heard of before. It is called a Batibat which doing some quick research is a real thing. It is from the Philippines, where it appears the Ilocano and Tagalog folklore having it being a vengeful demon. I will give credit here is that I like the story of how it ends up in Ohio and I'm always a fan of filmmakers taking demons that we don't really see to do something a bit different. Without going into spoilers here, I love that the title of the movie is a plan on words as this demon works with roots, vines and just plants in general.
What I also like here is that we're playing with religion and the corruption of youth. Sarah and I believe Christina is going to a Catholic high school. Father Weller is the father of the latter. Christina is doing rituals that are calling upon forces that are going against this belief system, but we see that she really doesn't follow this religion. It is being forced upon her. Felix is a Catholic priest, but he does some things that fall outside the lines there. We see him being up to break laws which draw Father Olawale (Adetokumboh M'Cormack) to scold him. Father Weller was also married, so he had to blur the lines of his religion.
I got away from the other point I wanted to make which is the corruption of youth. Christina as I said is doing these rituals. She really wants her hearing back as she is deaf, so she's willing to perform this ritual to get that back. Sarah isn't really involved in this, but she is the focus of the haunting. It is causing this young woman to become more sexualized. There is way of looking at her just acting as her mother passed away. This is something that commonly happens so I liked playing with this idea. Thane is a bit over his head, much like Father Weller.
Since I've been delving into them, I should shift over to the acting. I thought that Gonzalez had a good look about him as Felix. It is cool to play with a priest who is doing some things outside of what we normally do for a character like this. He is also an attractive male which adds a dimension. Carrigan is also good as this angry father trying to do what he can to protect his daughter, but also trying to raise her correctly. Jones is quite attractive. I like what she does with the duality of the normal version and the one that is being possessed. Churchill is good along with M'Cormack. Belhorn was also solid with the rest of the cast rounding this out for what was needed.
The last thing that I really should cover would be the effects. For the most part, I would say that we did have some good practical effects. If I did have an issue here, it is with some of the CGI. To make the tentacles look real, that is something that can be difficult to do. There was some times where it didn't hold up for me if I'm honest. I do like the look of the demon. The glowing red eyes we see a few times were good. Aside from that, the cinematography was good.
So now with that said, this is a movie that I wasn't sure what I was getting coming in, but I really like the story. It is interesting that this is set in Ohio with a demon I've never heard of before this. I think that the acting really works for what they needed to bring these characters to life. There are something good concepts and ideas being played with on top of that with who we are following. Not all of the effects worked for me, but overall, they were fine. The soundtrack didn't necessarily stand out to me. What I did enjoy was the voice they used for this entity. With that out of the way, I'd still say that this was an above average movie for me.
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