Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Eleven New Indie Titles

Having been out of the indie movie loop for a while due to side projects (special events – they do take time!) I’m back in the cinema saddle for a while to deliver some lesser- known film goodies.  That’s why this week’s crop of flicks examined contains a whopping eleven titles to make up for lost time.  (There are a couple January flicks thrown in for good measure!)  The complications of time travel, trying to be a part of something big, examining real life violence against cinematic stuff, dim dudes in need of some female inspiration, creepy old guys next door, martial arts with an added spirit energy kick, verbal slams that linger long, postpartum depression from hell, parents that kill their kin, mysterious black boxes in the forest and victims rising from the dead to get a little vengeance all get their movie due below.  Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews for Diverge, West Of Her, Fake BloodEntanglement, The Neighbor, The Insult, Kill Order, Still/Born, Mom And Dad, Black Hollow Cage and RV: Resurrected Victims – happy indie hunting!

(Gravitas Ventures)

A very clever thriller that begins a post-apocalyptic pic that then merges into a time travel flick – all the while maintaining a seriously suspenseful sensibility.  Not only does Writer/Director James Morrison mind bend the viewer by wisely answering some questions and not others, but his flick also has some very stark visuals that on an indie scale are almost unheard of.  Mixed with an effective across time dual turn by lead man Ivan Sandomire, this is dares to diverge from the norm.

(Gravitas Ventures)

Love the offbeat premise of this seemingly romantic tale of a man and woman who answer an ad to help place some mysterious inspiring tiles across the country and end up falling for one another. Heavily against typical tropes (Kelsey Siepser’s Jane is far from an open book!) and cute connections (the chemistry here is earned!), West Of Her with its lush landscapes and moving music succeeds due to a deep cinematic soul – depth works wonders.

(Level Film)

What starts out as a fun and seemingly frivolous journey about two filmmaking friends out to compare their cartoon movie gore with real-life violence quickly turns into one of the most disturbing edge-of-the-seat affairs I’ve seen in a doc.  Meaning the twosome shooting actual guns and sparring with gloves is slightly engaging, but when they wade into legitimate murder waters with various nefarious folks who walk the walk, the horror high tide comes in fast and furious.  Much more than a fluff piece about how film violence affects society, Fake Blood holds attention with fear that’s real.

(Dark Star Pictures)

Adding a serious twist on the whole idea of a rom-com (this one starts with a suicide attempt!), Entanglement has a myriad of great elements within.  A sarcastic witty script, some terrific fantasy visuals and a unique yet relatable lead in funnyman (but with a somber side too!) Thomas Middleditch.  But it’s the not-what-it-seems turn by the magnetic Jess Weixler that puts this one on another level.  Her sassy, bold and beautiful gal with her own secrets lovingly turns the whole ‘perfect girl’ scenario on its ear and continues her run of successfully creating characters that captivate – watching Weixler work is a wonder.

(Vertical Entertainment)

As a film The Neighbor is pretty standard suspense stuff, featuring a strange, calm and quiet guy who becomes too involved with a young quarreling couple next door – weirdness ensues.  But The Neighbor’s saving grace is the use of William “Master Chang” Fichtner as the titular wacko, which gives this one some added oddball extra credibility.  As the sweaty, nervous, tick ridden dude in an apparent midlife crisis, the ample actor brings layered kooky to a character that could have just been a creep – a little Fichtner goes a long way.

(RLJE Films)

Plagued with bad acting, clichés galore and a script that makes the words of Roger Corman’s works feel like Shakespeare by comparison, Kill Order is bottom of the barrel fare.  (And the infusion of “spirits” to enhance strength and fighting prowess doesn’t help either!)  The only saving grace in this recycled catastrophe is the myriad of marvelous martial arts scenes that mirror the work recently seen in outings like the Raid films.  (Minus the story savvy of helmer Gareth Evans of course!)  A flawed flick with fewer problems in the hand-to-hand combat area, this one needed to order a better story to kill the competition.

(Cohen Media Group)

While the idea of a verbal spat between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee that leads to societal unrest between cultures is an engaging one, the result within The Insult is far from epic. Meaning for a film with such a powerful premise, this one feels a tad lackluster and never really reaches the full provocative potential it so desperately reaches for.  More a generic tale about two overly prideful men with a chip on their shoulder, this conflict could have been settled with a handshake.

(Vertical Entertainment)

Still/Born is a film that takes an everything AND the kitchen sink approach to it’s haunting themes about the loss of a baby – extreme postpartum depression, hallucinations, demonic possession, mental insanity – but not in a good way.  So by the time the flick reveals it’s true naughty nature the audience has already checked out form sheer cinematic exhaustion.  (The first half of the film is riddled with unnecessary jump scares!)  When acting icon Michael Ironside can’t even help hit a horror home run, there’s trouble in terror tot land.

(Momentum Pictures)

With a killer (literally!) story of moms and dads turning on their own kin in search of a little blood and the inclusion of Nicolas “Wildman” Cage as a freaky father figure, this one seems like a cinematic slam dunk, right?  Problem is by the time the film gets to its demented destination it never quite reaches the manic status it seems to promise.  Cage and mean mom Selma Blair play the more dim aspects of the premise and leave little room in the area of dark comedy.  An overly ferocious flick lacking in fun, Mom And Dad should have been Cage’s overacting swan song.

(Level Film)

While seemingly creative (the lead gal has a very cool robotic arm!) and with obvious on-screen story thought (there’s some hidden meaning way past the obvious here!), Black Hollow Cage nevertheless has a host of problems that lead to its downfall.  The slow snails pace, love of lingering long on scenes of emotional turbulence and weird ideas never explained kneecap a film with some serious visual prowess.  A very shiny box with an alluring exterior, this one is hollow all the same.

(Well Go USA)

This one is a simple murder mystery moonlighting as a tale about victims rising from the dead to seek vengeance on their killers.  Problem is both sides of the story equation provide nothing special, with the otherworldly aspect only a mild sidebar and the rest featuring a gaggle of characters that are pretty unmemorable.  Wanting to match practical and mystical elements into the script is not in any way wrong (only filmmakers from South Korean would be so bold!) – it just doesn’t work here.



I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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