Supernatural

Nightstream Capsule Review: An Unquiet Grave

The Nightstream Fest films keep coming; this time it’s the supernatural drama, An Unquiet Grave. This film is directed by Terence Krey (Winter Slides), who also co-wrote the film with one of its stars, Christine Nyland (The Garden Left Behind). An Unquiet Grave is the story of a man, one year after his wife died in a car accident, as he seeks the help of his wife’s twin sister to try and bring her back to life. It’s a tale of heartbreak, magic, and morality.

An Unquiet Grave plays out like a much more intimate version of Pet Sematary. The film entirely focuses on two actors, Nyland and Jacob A. Ware (Graves, Boardwalk Empire), who both give strong, emotionally charged performances. At only 72 minutes, the filmmakers stick to the basics of the plot, emphasizing the relationships between characters and the lengths people go to in order to be with their deceased loved ones. The mysticism of the plot is left relatively unexplained, but it is shown in such a simplistic way that the audience can put the pieces together.

At times, An Unquiet Grave might be a bit too bare-bones for some viewers. That being said, it succeeds in conveying the deep emotional turmoil each character experiences. Scattered in that turmoil is eerie suspense, haunting imagery, and even some disturbing practical effects. It all comes together to drive home the point many fail to miss, especially when it comes to the ones they love: be careful what you wish for. An Unquiet Grave pulls back the curtain to take an intimate look at love, loss, and the toll grief takes.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10

Nightstream Capsule Review: Reunion

Writer and director Jake Mahaffy (Free in Deed, Wellness) brings his latest film, Reunion, to Nightstream audiences. Pregnant Ellie returns to her family home as her mother is getting it ready to sell. From the moment Ellie arrives, old memories haunt her and unravel her relationship with her family.

While the general concept for the plot is an interesting one, it lacks a bit of finesse in the execution. From beginning to end, Reunion maintains the same level of tension, or lack thereof. There is a lot of information provided right away, but there is a general lack of context for that information. Ellie immediately sees the ghosts of her past, yet at no point does this help to build suspense or fear for the audience. Even as the audience begins to put the pieces together and the big “revelations” are made in the climax, it doesn’t really feel that climactic. The filmmakers make an attempt to play with the idea of time, reality, and even magic, but it only further confuses the story.

Despite the film’s flaws, there are positives as well. The performances by both Emma Draper (This Town, Daffodils) and Julia Ormond (Legends of the Fall, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) are quite good, given the somewhat monotone plot they were given. Between the setting of the old house and some of the practical effects, the visuals of the film are also enjoyable. The house itself is a fantastic set piece because, while it is quite large, the clutter from preparing to move makes it feels incredibly claustrophobic and increases the feeling of insanity. Reunion takes a stab at a complex idea, but it unfortunately ends up falling flat.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10

Nightstream Capsule Review: 32 Malasaña Street

Spanish direct Albert Pintó (RIP, Killing God) brings 32 Malasaña Street to Nightstream Fest audiences. This eerie supernatural film is written by Ramón Campos (High Seas, Cocaine Coast), Gema R. Neira (High Seas, Cocaine Coast), David Orea (Kaan Kun, 45 rpm), and Salvador S. Molin (45 rpm, Domingo). The film follows a family risking it all to move from the country to the big city in 1976 Spain. Their dreams are quickly dashed when they realize something else lives in their new home.

For the first 2/3 of this film, I was in love. It wastes no time in creating well-earned, bone-chilling scares that had me watching from behind my hands. The entire cast is also fantastic, especially Begoña Vargas (High Seas, A Different View) as teenage Amparo. Horror fans will also immediately recognize Javier Botet (Mama, The Conjuring 2) both in and out of his frightening creature makeup. The makeup for Botet’s creature is as gorgeous as it is terrifying.

It’s impossible for me to say what I didn’t like about the last 1/3 of 32 Malasaña Street without being too spoilery and revealing the climax of the film. However, I will say there are two aspects of that climax that I take issue with. It’s truly unfortunate because, up until that point, I thought the film delivered the kind of thrills and story that could allow it to stand next to other recent favorites like The Conjuring and Insidious. 32 Malasaña Street has a promising and terrifying beginning, but falls apart when it matters most.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10

Fantasia Review: Anything For Jackson

Audrey and Henry Walsh lost their young grandson. In a desperate attempt to bring him back, the couple decides to kidnap a pregnant woman and perform a ritual to put their grandson’s spirit in her baby. When things don’t go as planned, it places every one of them in mortal peril.

Fantasia International Film Festival brings audiences a disturbing new tale of terror with Anything for Jackson. The film is directed by Justin G. Dyck (Super Detention, Christmas in Paris) and written by Keith Cooper (Super Detention, A Christmas Village). Most of these filmmakers’ filmography is primarily made-for-TV Christmas films, which is very different from Anything for Jackson. No time is wasted in setting up the suspense as we witness the Walshes kidnapping a pregnant woman and imprisoning her in their home. From there we slowly learn the driving force behind their actions and how it is all a desperate attempt to bring their grandson, Jackson, back from the dead. What I love about the way the plot structure is how the audience gets breadcrumbs of information and each of these breadcrumbs brings some new surprising revelation. At times these surprises can be a bit confusing because certain images aren’t fully explained. Yet it helps to bring fear to the film. It adds some depth to the story and the characters while also gradually building the terror.

Anything for Jackson also takes a deep look into the things we do for the ones we love and the consequences of those actions. Everyone in the film has a different motivation driving them throughout the story. Some of these motivations are so strong that they are willing to make any sacrifice necessary. Yet there are also repercussions, especially when dealing with dark magic. The filmmakers take a look at what happens when you don’t fully understand those repercussions, which ends up being the catalyst for much of the horror that ensues.

There are some familiar faces in Anything for Jackson and multiple great performances. Sheila McCarthy (The Day After Tomorrow, Die Hard 2) plays Audrey Welsh. Audrey is the driving force behind much of the film. McCarthy makes it quite clear Audrey is the most distraught over losing her grandson, but she also is doing her best to make sure no one gets hurt in the process. Julian Richings (Supernatural, Urban Legend) plays Henry Walsh. Henry is the more practical of the couple, which makes sense since he’s a doctor. What drives Henry is kept a bit more of a mystery. Richings plays the character in a way that is very cool and collected, yet tender and loving with his wife. With both of the Walshes, McCarthy and Richings portray the characters in a way that conveys their determination, but also makes it apparent they are not necessary evil people. Konstantina Mantelos (A Christmas Crush, Miss Misery) plays Becker, the kidnapped pregnant woman. Throughout the film the audience sees Becker go through a gambit of different emotions, and Mantelos plays the character incredibly well. These three performances create an interesting dynamic throughout the film.

This is quite the visually stimulating film. Anything for Jackson takes place in a large, uniquely designed house. It allows for strange angles and opportunities for things to lurk around every corner while also conveying the Walshes wealth. Then there are the scares. When things don’t go quite as planned, many strange entities appear throughout the house. What’s even worse is that something seems to be able to control people who are on the Walsh’s property. It creates plenty of opportunities for disturbing and haunting practical effects. There is everything from ghostly figures, to gory mutilations, to sinister otherworldly beings. All of this is created with wonderful practical effects and results in some memorable imagery.

Anything for Jackson is a terrifying story of loss, the lengths we go to for love, and the dire consequences to our actions. Dyck and Cooper make a daring and successful dive into horror with this film. It hits on the emotional notes as much as it does the frights. The film boasts strong performances, especially from McCarthy and Richings as the Walshes. Throughout the film there are many twists and turns intermixed with horrifying practical effects that are sure to disturb audiences. This film makes me hope to see the filmmakers continue in the horror genre.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10

Fantasia Review: Sanzaru

A woman is giving live-in care to an elderly woman with dementia. Due to dealing with health issues and the strain between family members, the strange happenings around the house at first go unnoticed. As the situation becomes more dire, the caretaker has to put the pieces together to save those she loves.

Writer and director Xia Magnus brings his feature-film debut to Fantasia International Film Festival. The plot of Sanzaru follows Evelyn as she begins to care for Dena, an elderly woman who has some mental and physical health issues. Evelyn and her nephew, Amos, live in Dena’s house while Dena’s son, Clem, lives in a trailer on the property. Since Evelyn is primarily alone in the house as she cares for Dena, she starts to notice that something about the house doesn’t feel quite right. We learn that everyone in the home has their secrets and some of those secrets are more dangerous than others. While increasingly sinister occurrences happen in the home, Evelyn begins to solve the puzzle of what haunts the home. It is a haunting, slow burn of a film that has some very eerie moments.

What makes it especially interesting are intercut scenes in which the audience hears Evelyn’s deceased mother speaking to someone named “Sanzaru.” It is these moments that make Sanzaru unique among other films like it while also allowing the audience insight into what’s happening before the main characters do. The film also does a fantastic job of showing the dangerous effects of secrets. Almost everyone in the home has a dark secret they are keeping hidden, and Magnus does a wonderful job of conveying how those secrets can fester and affect later generations.

The cast of Sanzaru gives understated yet powerful performances. Aina Dumlao (Ballers, McGyver) plays Evelyn. Dumlao is great at making Evelyn come across as a very reserved woman, but also dedicated to her job. It’s her dedication and capabilities that make the audience believe she can solve the mystery inside the house. Justin Arnold (Sister Aimee, Lawless Range) plays Clem. Clem struggles after returning from the military, but he has deep and dark secrets that tear him up even more. Arnold portrays Clem in a way that makes the character dark and mysterious, but also makes him entirely sympathetic. Both Dumlao and Arnold also have great on-screen chemistry together.

One of the things I enjoy most about Sanzaru is the unique depiction of ghosts. During the intercut scenes I previously mentioned with the voice of Evelyn’s mother, all we see is a glowing ball of light in the center of the screen. Eventually, those scenes bleed into the real world and the house where Evelyn cares for Dena. There is a brilliant use of light and shadow to convey spirits of those who have passed and also denotes whether these spirits are friend or foe. This not only adds visual interest to the film, but it also helps elevate the suspense in the climax of the film.

Sanzaru is an eerie and unique tale of a family haunted by ghosts and secrets. Magnus makes a strong debut for his first feature film. It’s clear he is one to watch in the future. The plot is a relatively simple, slow-burn, but Magnus adds depth and interest to make his film memorable. Strong performances and haunting visuals help bring everything together. The film is a great study on subdued horror and the generational consequences some secrets leave behind.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10

Fantasia Review: The Dark and the Wicked

On a secluded goat farm, a man is slowly dying. After being under the care of his wife, it seems as though he is running out of time. When his two adult children come to say their goodbyes, they become plagued with waking nightmares as something evil comes for them all.

Fantasia International Film Festival brings audiences yet another hit by writer and director Bryan Bertino (The Monster, The Strangers). The Dark and the Wicked tells a terrifying tale of something evil targeting a family. The film begins by introducing us to a woman caring for her ailing husband. It’s immediately clear something isn’t quite right. When her two adult children arrive to pay their respects before their father passes, the evil quickly becomes more active. Bertino is great and constantly implies the evil entity is lurking in the shadows, making for a terrifying movie-watching experience. He plays with the fear of the unknown as much as the fear of evil and death. The audience can’t trust their own eyes and it’s never obvious what is real and what is a sinister hallucination.

Bertino also excels at not only having traditional frights in his film, but also having complex family dynamics. In The Dark and the Wicked, there is immediate and obvious strain among the family members. The mother makes it known she didn’t want her children to come. Both the son and the daughter obviously haven’t been home in a while. There is also tension between the siblings. Every bit of family drama and deep-rooted issue boil over as the evil entity manipulates their emotions. It gets to the point where the family members can’t trust their own eyes and are led to the brink of insanity.

The Dark and the Wicked has a wonderful cast who give emotionally charged performances. Marin Ireland (The Umbrella Academy, Piercing) plays the daughter, Louise. Ireland’s performance is absolutely brilliant. There is clearly a lot of emotional strife within her family relationships, but a sense of duty and guilt drive Louise to stick around, even when it’s clear she’s in danger. Michael Abbott Jr. (Loving, Mud) plays Louise’s brother, Michael. It’s obvious that Michael feels a similar sense of duty, but his loyalties are pulled in two different directions because of his wife and kids. Abbott is great at conveying how his practical nature and love of his family make it more difficult for him to accept what’s happening on the farm. Both Ireland and Abbott act very well together, embodying that often times tumultuous relationship between siblings.

Bertino films are known for being very minimal when it comes to effects, yet they still have great visuals. Luckily, The Dark and the Wicked is no different in that regard. The stunning cinematography sets the tone. It showcases the beautiful sets while also drawing your eye to the things that don’t belong. The evil entity after this family never shows its true face. As a result, most of the more frightening scenes rely heavily on barely seen things in the shadows. The entity also plays with the minds of the characters and audience by constantly making it unclear what is real and what is a waking nightmare. It all results in terrifying look and feel sending chills down your spine.

The Dark and the Wicked is yet another achievement by Bertino that balances supernatural terror with character-driven drama. There are many truly frightening moments and the plot is compelling from start to finish. Between the subtly haunting visuals and the emotional performances from the entire cast, it’s impossible to deny the success of this film. It is the kind of film that is a punch to the gut, but in the best way possible. I have no doubt this will be on many “best of the year” lists for 2020.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

Fantasia Review: Kriya

A beautiful woman picks up a DJ from a bar one night. She takes him back to her family home, where they discover the woman’s father has died. Through the rest of the night as the family mourns and goes through their rituals, the DJ is dragged down a strange path of magic and evil.

Coming all the way from India, Fantasia International Film Festival brings Kriya to Canadian audiences. Writer and director Sidharth Srinivasan (Divine Vision, Soul of Sand) delivers an unsettling supernatural thriller. The film opens in a nightclub where we meet the DJ, Neel, and a beautiful woman named Sitara. She lures Neel back to her large, albeit decrepit family home where the rest of Sitara’s family has already begun mourning her father. Despite a cold reception from Sitara’s mother, Neel keeps succumbing to Sitara’s wishes and staying to help with the burial rituals. Throughout the course of this single night, Neel experiences increasingly bizarre supernatural occurrences. Everything lends to a constant state of dread that only gets worse and worse leading up to the shocking final moments of the film.

Kriya is fascinating for those not familiar with Indian customs, but that lack of knowledge could also be a detriment. I personally always love learning about different cultures, even through the lense of horror films. Yet, when it comes to the plot of Kriya, it feels like audience members might not get what is off about these funerary practices. By not understanding the warning signs, some of the suspense and terror the filmmaker intended to convey is lessened. It is still a fascinating watch, but it might leave some viewers feeling as if they weren’t in on the secret behind the film. It’s also hard to believe, no matter how polite Neel wanted to be, that he wouldn’t just leave. He just met Sitara and owes her nothing so it seems unlikely he would stick around, even with the promise of sex.

Each cast member brings depth and layers to their character, but two stand out. The first is Noble Luke making his debut as Neel. Luke is great at making Neel come across as a kind and caring man. Yet the final act of the film is when we really get to see what Luke can do and he delivers quite a memorable performance. Navjot Randhawa (Mehsampur, The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs) plays the alluring Sitara. Sitara uses her good looks to get her way with Neel, but Randhawa shows a more malevolent side of the character that is always just beneath the surface and eventually comes out for all to see. Both Randhawa and Luke have great chemistry on screen, even when the night takes a strange and terrifying turn.

This film utilizes many stunning visuals in order to generate and maintain the sense of fear. Sitara’s family home is in a remote area and seems to be in disrepair. The production design of the crumbling walls and sparsely decorated rooms create an eerie feel. This also makes the people within those rooms the true focus of the film. It’s the production design of Unearth that creates the first feeling of unease. Then that feeling increases with the performances and the inclusion of small details in the background that reveal shocking revelations.

Kriya tells a fascinating and disturbing tale about funeral rituals and family secrets. Srinivasan does a great job of including many layers to the mystery, each one more deadly than the last. The viewing experience would likely benefit from more cultural context, but the film is still a compelling watch. From the performances to the setting, every aspect of the film comes together to create the feeling of tension and dread. It’s a dread that sticks with you even after the film ends.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10

Fantasia Review: Detention

Taiwan in 1962 was experiencing the White Terror martial law period. Two high school students awake to find themselves trapped in the abandoned high school. As they try to stay alive, the duo must also figure out how they got there while also trying to escape before it’s too late.

Fantasia International Film Festival continues its run of fantastic foreign films with Taiwan’s Detention. The film is the feature-film debut of director John Hsu and is co-written by Hsu, Shih-Keng Chien (On Children, The Victim), and Lyra Fu (A-Tsuí & Kok-Siông, Close Your Eyes Before It’s Dark). Detention is my favorite kind of foreign horror film because it not only tells a frightening story, but it also reveals a piece of Taiwan’s history that I wasn’t familiar with. The filmmakers waste no time in setting up the tense situation the characters are in. At first, we see the students in their military-like high school, but then the two students wake up alone in the darkened school. They see a number of bizarre and terrifying things as they walk the halls, trying to remember what lead to them being trapped in this situation. Between the gradual reveal of clues and the haunting things these students encounter, the film becomes a suspenseful supernatural thriller that also acts as a metaphor for the horrors of living under martial law.

The mostly young cast of Detention is incredibly talented. Gingle Wang (On Children, The Outsiders) plays the young Fang. We quickly learn that Fang is a quiet, shy girl who mostly follows the rules. Unfortunately, she lets a crush consume her so she can’t see the consequences of her actions. Wang does a fantastic job of showing the duality of Fang’s innocence and how vindictive she can truly be, while still making Fang an overall sympathetic character. Chin-Hua Tseng (The Name Engraved in Your Heart, Workers) plays Wei. Like Fang, Wei also allows a crush to cloud his better judgement, but he cares much more about others and the state of the country he lives in. Wei works with a small group of students who copy banned books, knowing if he is caught, he could be killed. Tseng strikes a perfect balance between Wei’s desire to do good and his young male infatuations.

From start to finish, the team behind Detention took great care to create something with visual interest. At first, the set and the costumes help to tell the story of the time period. The audience quickly picks up on the strict, government-controlled life the students live. It also helps to establish the danger the students are in from real-world factors. When the students wake up in the abandoned school, it is almost like an alternate reality. The school is derelict and contains clues to what happened to the kids in real life. Between the creepy set design and a combination of disturbing practical and CGI effects, Detention transports audiences to another world that mirrors what’s happening in the real world.

Detention creates a stunning metaphor to express the real-life horrors of Taiwan in the 60’s. Hsu, Chien, and Fu weave together a tale that is as frightening as it is heartbreaking. It feels somewhat reminiscent of Sucker Punch, albeit slightly more competent and with more historical relevance. The film boasts great performances from the entire cast, gorgeous visuals, and also teaches audiences a bit of Taiwanese history they likely weren’t aware of. It’s a sad, beautiful film that delivers as many chills as it does heart.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

Fantasia Review: The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw

In a secluded community, one woman has kept her daughter a secret for 17 years. In that time, the woman’s farm has been the only successful one, making the other villagers think she practices witchcraft. When the daughter witnesses a villager mistreat her mother, she decides that she’s done hiding.

Bringing a bit of witchcraft to Fantasia International Film Festival is The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw. This is the sophomore feature of Canadian writer and director Thomas Robert Lee (Empyrean). The film takes place in 1973, but the characters we follow live their lives as if it’s 1873. This remote Irish community choses to forego modern advancements to live a simpler life. Unfortunately for most of the villagers, the 17 years after a strange eclipse has left them with almost no crops. Except one woman, Agatha, who lives further away from the village on her own always has a great harvest.

It’s immediately clear there is a lot of tension between Agatha and the rest of the village. They are not only envious of her harvest, but they assume she has been successful because of witchcraft. Tensions only rise as Agatha has to hide her daughter, Audrey, for 17 years. It generates a constant sense of danger and a fear of the unknown. Why does Agatha hide Audrey? What would happen if the town knew about her? The moment Audrey decides she isn’t going to hide anymore, the village slowly descends into madness and bloodshed.

For the most part, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a mystical, compelling film. I believe the one issue the plot continually bumps into is time. The most obvious issue with time is that the film takes place in 1973. While this community seems to be modeled after the Amish, as they refuse modern advances in technology and medicine, it doesn’t necessarily seem important to the plot. There are only a few minor references to the time period after it is established in the beginning. These references are so fleeting it doesn’t add to the film, although it doesn’t detract either. There is also a much larger passage of time in the course of the film than there appears to be. From the time Audrey decides she has had enough to the end of the film, it only seems to be a few days. Yet one character at one point mentions it has been weeks. It’s a small detail, but Audrey’s wrath seems so quick until the many weeks are mentioned, effectively slowing that wrath to a crawl.

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw has an array of fantastic performances from start to finish. Making her feature-film debut is Jessica Reynolds (My Left Nut) as Audrey. From the moment we meet Audrey, it’s apparent that she isn’t content with her life hidden in the shadows and letting people walk all over her mother. Reynolds has a great ethereal presence that she can quickly turn sinister that works perfectly for the role. Another outstanding performance comes from Jared Abrahamson (American Animals, Fear the Walking Dead) as Colm. When we first meet Colm, he has just lost his son and he lashes out at Agatha. Yet, while our fist impression of Colm is negative, Abrahamson does a great job of bringing depth to the character and showing the good heart underneath the rough exterior.

Everything from the production design to the cinematography is stunning. The production design team and the costume design team behind The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw expertly transport the audience to a different time. The homesteads of the small village are gorgeous. The costumes have a utility to them that matches the rough lives these people lead while still being beautiful. In general the film has a monotone color palette that matches how stark the land and their lives are, but there are still many moments of beauty in the cinematography and how each shot is framed. That starkness is punctuated by a few shocking, gory, vibrantly bloody practical effects.

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a haunting film that keeps audiences on the edge of their seat with each increasingly horrific event. Lee effectively makes it known that he is a filmmaker to keep an eye on. His film drips with tension and plays into the fears and desires of the residents in this isolated village. There isn’t a great sense of time throughout the film, but the bewitching visuals and captivating performances are what audiences will remember after watching the film. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is sure to cast a spell on you.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10

Fantasia Review: The Undertaker’s Home

An undertaker, his wife, and his stepdaughter live in the home behind his business. This dysfunctional family is plagued by spirits of the dead who have come through the mortuary. They seek out spiritual guidance to protect themselves and soon learn the horrifying truth behind their ghostly inhabitants.

All the way from Argentina, Fantasia International Film Festival brings audiences a twisted supernatural ride. The Undertaker’s Home is the film debut of writer and director Mauro Iván Ojeda. When we are first introduced to the undertaker and his family, they already have precautions in place so they can live side-by-side with the spirits in their home. Each of them reacts differently to the ghosts and it is these differences that gradually reveal the cracks dividing this family unit. Things eventually get worse and they are forced to seek further help to coexist with the spirits, but they learn there is something far more sinister lurking in the dark. What is interesting about the film is how we are thrown in the middle of the haunting. They have clearly lived here for a long time and already sought help.

From there we dive into the undertaker, his wife, and his stepdaughter individually. They all have different reasons for staying in the home and react very differently to the ghosts. While it is fascinating and I wish it was the primary focus of the film, it instead detracts from the film as a whole because there is no clear single plot driving the film forward. It isn’t until the last act of the film that some semblance of that driving force is introduced, but it feels far too late for it to really add weight to what the audience just watched. The final moments also add a sentimentality that is absent from the rest of the film, making it come across as forced and awkward.

All of the performances in The Undertaker’s Home are well done, but they don’t incite the intended emotional reaction. This is likely more to do with how the characters were written rather than the performances of the individual actors. Luis Machín (Necrophobia 3D, Cain y Abel) plays the undertaker, Bernardo. His character has the most interesting relationship with the spirits, seeming to use them for his own personal fulfillment. Machín plays Bernardo quite well and makes the character both sympathetic and pathetic all at once. Celeste Gerez (Historias de diván, La venganza de Ambar) plays the wife, Estela. Estela clearly has had a difficult life. Gerez’s performance shows how detached she has become to her loved ones, even her daughter, because of that past. Finally we have Camila Vaccarini (Paisaje) as Estela’s daughter, Irina. Right away it is clear that Irina doesn’t want to live with her mother and stepfather, but she stays in the house in hopes of seeing one specific spirit in the home. Vaccarini’s performance is definitely a standout, especially in the final act of the film as the family attempts to rid themselves of the evil.

The filmmakers make an interesting choice to not show much of the spirits within the home. Instead, The Undertaker’s Home relies on different visuals to imply the presence of ghosts. Most immediately obvious is a red line that seems to divide the spaces meant for the family vs meant for the ghosts. The family’s side is clean and tidy, while the ghost side is left to collect dust and trash. It’s a surprisingly strong visual aid that allows the audience to constantly feel as though something is waiting just on the other side of the line. We only see the strongest of ghosts in a physical form, but even then they are primarily in shadow and never completely visible, maintaining their mystery.

The Undertaker’s Home creates an interesting premise, but it fails to follow through with a cohesive plot. For a feature-film debut, this is still quite a strong start for Ojeda as it shows quite a bit of potential that could benefit from just a bit more finesse. The idea there and the performances are strong even if the characters aren’t fully realized. While I don’t love the film, I enjoyed elements of it enough that I am quite interested to see what Ojeda does in the future.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10