Crime and the Supernatural
Bruce Von Stiers
I recently reviewed a thriller short film by director Nick Snow. It was an interesting film titled Wolfdog. Nick has been the director and cinematographer for several other short films. And he was involved in a television series and a segmented feature film.
In addition to those bodies of work, Nick has directed a thriller feature film. The title of the film is The Blacklight and it is both a crime drama and a supernatural thriller.
The film opens with some kind of ritual in the woods. Of course, it would be in the woods. This ritual concludes with the throat cutting of a young woman and an apparent encounter with an otherworldly being.
From there, the audience is introduced to Liam Green. He is a kind of young rich guy who is too cool for the guys doing yard work at his house. One of the landscapers, Danny, is given a pair of shoelaces by Liam. This plays into things a bit later.
The bit later is Danny coming back to rob the house. Well, he is exiting through the pool house and is trying not to get noticed by Liam, who is with a girl at poolside. But noticed he is. Danny gets outside and then Liam offers him a deal. He knows of a lot of places that can be robbed, but they'd have to do it together.
Apparently, they pull off a robbery and Liam is all gung-ho to do more. Danny tries to put the brakes on. But, hey, Liam seems to want to do a real-life take off of Grand Theft Auto. Liam knows just the place to hit next.
But as luck would have it, Danny thinks they need another person to help. Someone accustomed to violence and knows their way around a gun. It seems that Liam knows a guy.
While all of this is going on, there are some strange doings. An older guy has something he's been holding onto for years. Someone else wants him to give it up. But he's not having any of that. It seems he wants to protect the item and implies that something sinister emotes from the item.
There are a lot of moving parts in this film. There is Danny and Liam and the burglary. There is the old guy and whatever he's holding on to. There is the person who wants the item. Oh, and there's the gun guy that Liam knows.
There is an incident with Kit, the gun guy, and a loan shark, that is solved later in the film. And a bit later Danny and Liam are trying to rob the older guy's house. Kit is supposed to be there, but he had something else on his mind. And when he does show up, things go off the rail real fast. A violent action occurs that is the beginning of a whole series of incidents.
Kip steals the item, which is a kind of supernatural artifact, a scarf like thing. The person wearing it assumes supernatural powers. But there are people who want it for themselves. Thrown into the mix is a mob boss and a group of people who need the artifact for some kind of ritual. Maybe like the one that was shown at the first of the film?
Also thrown into the mix is Hannah, the daughter of the guy that the artifact was stolen from. It's up to her and Danny to figure out how to retrieve the artifact and fix things. But there is also a guy named Lucky hanging around in the background. He and Danny have a history together and it isn't pretty. Things come to head later between Danny and Lucky.
I was interested in the locations that were used in the film, especially the house where the artifact was held. The exterior shots of the house made it look very intriguing. I found out that the filming was mostly done in New York City but the scenes for the house were done in Oregon, Illinois.
I was also curious about a scene in the film that occurred at the office of the mob boss. In one of the rooms, there was a satanic horror film playing on a big screen. I learned that it was a fake movie, done as homage to Italian horror filmmaker, Dario Argento. He popularized a style known as “giallo films”. As an additional nod to Argento, the mob boss in the film is also named Giallo.
The acting in the film was good. Nothing was really overplayed, although the character of Kit might have been a bit much. But then again, I knew a guy like that growing up.
As for the filming, it was crisp and clean, with no erratic camera movements and every scene flowed smoothy into the next.
Grant Lancaster played Danny. Grant has starred in a bunch of short films and has been seen in show such as The Blacklist. Brooks Russell was Liam. He's been in a few short films and was in episodes of The Shorts Show. Kit was played by Corey Scott Rutledge. Aside from acting, Corey has several writer, director and producer credits. Hannah was played by Samantha Aneson. Her credits include an episode of Super(fluous) and the short film Wolfdog, which I mentioned earlier. Richard Templeton was Lucky. He has extensive film and television appearances.
Other actors in the film include Victor Verhaeghe as the mob boss, Michael Dale as Hannah's dad, Brian O'Neill as Kit's loan shark and Brad Stuart as Gregor, the main bad guy who is after the artifact.
And appearing in minor roles in the film are Katie Aldhizer, Kate Gauthier, Don Hatton, Raquel Powell and Anthony DeVito. Also appearing in the film were Connor Bond, Luis Figueroa, Odin A Graniela, Matthew McCurdy and Franca Paschen. Elise Rovinsky can be heard in one scene with Liam talking to his mother on the phone.
The film took about three years to complete from start to finish. They were funding the film as it went along, so it took a while. The actual filming was completed just prior to the start of the pandemic. The shutdown phase of the pandemic was used to get postproduction completed.
As I wrote earlier, I consider The Blacklight to be both a crime drama and supernatural thriller. The supernatural aspect is the foundation of the story, and the criminal elements build on that foundation. The melding of the two genres was extremely well implemented.
The Blacklight just finished a limited theatrical run at several AMC theaters. The production company, Dashford Media, which Nick Snow is a partner in, is working towards putting the film out as VOD or viewable through a streaming service.You can see a trailer for The Blacklight and find out more information about the film through its page on the Dashford Media web site. That page can be found at https://www.dashfordmedia.com/theblacklight .
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© 2022 Bruce E Von Stiers