The last feature-film I was able to see at the Portland Horror Film Festival was The Parker Sessions, a film written and directed by Steven King Simmons. Parker is a disturbed young woman with a dark past. When she seeks the help of a new counselor to cure her night terrors, it takes them both on a twisted journey.
Based on Simmons’ own battle with night terrors, The Parker Sessions is a stark examination of battling your own personal demons and how the professional help we seek is sometimes not enough. Shot entirely in black and white, the film is broken into four acts. This format allows for Simmons to peel back the layers of Parker’s life and her plan in a way that shows she is an unreliable narrator. Yet at the same time, her intentions are not without merit. The lack of color adds a bleakness to the events unfolding that matches Parker’s world view. There are some pacing issues, but the payoff at the fourth act helps to make up for some of the lulls.
The two leads both deliver striking performances. Rachell Sean makes her acting debut as Parker, giving audiences a truly haunting portrayal of the titular character. Danny Jones (Out of Liberty) plays the counselor, Robert, and makes the character almost immediately unlikable. The seeming lack of chemistry between the two make for heightened tension in each of their interactions. As the cherry on top of the cake, the climax of the film has some well done and shocking practical effects. If you see this film, be sure to watch through the credits. The last section is one that made the PHFF clap and cheer.
The Parker Sessions is a methodical, suspenseful film that gives an unreliable narrator a chance for redemption.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10