Delusion (2016): A Long Time Coming (Review)

David Graziano as Frank Parrillo in Delusion

Written and directed by  Christopher Di Nunzio (A Life Not to Follow, Under the Dark Wing) Delusion is a slow dark look at the grieving process set against an urban backdrop. There is a mixture of the paranormal and a touch of evil as a man tries to come to grips with his wife’s death. 

David Graziano is Frank Parrillo, a widower who is still haunted by the death of his wife Isabella (Carlyne Fournier) three years previously.  Frank has just received a letter from Isabella, written before she died. This posthumous delivery starts Frank on a journey of self discovery and could lead to the possible corruption of his soul. 

Frank’s search for closure takes a long time.  He speaks with a psychic who does a card reading. She warns him about a new person in his life. She will not, says the card reader,  be good for him.

Parrillo is, as Graziano plays him, a middle class “everyman.” A older chap going through his mid-life crisis alone. Frank tells his nephew early on that he likes younger women.  A fact made clear when he flirts with the young waitress at the diner.

But Frank is a nice fellow. The waitress flirts back and her older customer is delighted that he can connect with her.  It is Parrillo’s “nice guy” actions  that sets him up for a possible fall from grace.

While Parrillo is eager to laugh and joke in public, at home his demeanor is very different. He is plagued by odd dreams and he meets the woman that the psychic warned him about.

Mary (played by Jami Tennille) is unsettling and mysterious.  She and Frank connect but it is clear that they do not really fit.  Tennille gives her character an unnerving personality that vacillates between being interesting and frightening.

Jami Tennille as Mary
Jami Tennille as Mary

Delusion is very slow paced and quite surreal. However, since Di Nunzio is looking at the process of grieving the loss of a loved one, it should be. Grief itself may eventually become a cathartic experience but it always a long time coming.

Everyday tasks and events become surreal in the face of that looming gap. “Seeing” the lost family member, or that sense of expectation where we expect to hear their voice or to see them come around a corner.

Di Nunzio  has taken the mentally tasking experience of grieving the loss of a spouse and given it a supernatural noir touch.

Frank struggles through his days with the aid of medication. He still hallucinates  and relives special moments with his dead wife.  Between his constant memories and the skull face woman he keeps seeing, it brings up the possibility that Parrillo may be imagining the whole thing.

A man in a black suit and red tie pops and there is every chance that this elusive character may have designs on Frank’s well being.

Horror fans who expect jump scares will be disappointed. Although at least one scene will give the viewer a bit of  a start.  Delusion  is more about the mental processes we go through and focuses on the un-nerving and unsettling  aspects of what may or may not be real.

The title says it all. Frank may well be suffering a delusion. After all, these sorts of things are not real.  Or are they?

Having only recently discovered the existence of Graziano he has become a personal favorite in a short space of time. He brings a high level of truth to his portrayal of Frank and it is his presence that keeps the viewer watching.

If there is any complaint about Delusion it would be the pacing. Even though it is understood that this may have been done to echo the real process of dealing with loss, the film does drag a bit.

It is an interesting look at one man’s struggle to deal with his wife’s death.  We get the impression at the start that Frank has been doing very well. The letter from his dead wife changes all that.

Delusion is a solid 3.5 star film.  Had the pacing be that little bit quicker and some of the supporting actors a tad less wooden, this would have been a full 5 star effort. The storyline and Graziano make the film work as does Nunzio’s firm directing and crisp editing.

Christopher tells us that Delusion is still be on the festival circuit.  It will be screening at the Shawna Shea Film Festival on 11 November. The film  just finished being screened at the Hudson Valley International Film Festival in August and Action on Film International Film Festival In September.

The film has been picked up by Cinema Epoch for distribution and is avail to watch via Amazon.com. It will be available on more platforms very soon.

Delusion – Official Trailer from Christopher Di Nunzio on Vimeo.

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Devils of War (2013): Get Ze Cliche

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Written and directed by Eli Dorsey, Devils of War is his first feature film. One can only hope that he has learned his lesson with this film and either changes his career choice or makes a better feature film next time.

Starring Sunt Coordinator/stuntman Jerry L Buxbaum as the “legendary” leader of a four man team that is, unsurprisingly, full of three more “legendary” men. Buxbaum can be said to be the biggest name in the film. His elite team has been tasked by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) himself to extract a mole from the occult headquarters of Hitlers paranormal Nazi division.

In a race against time and demons, the small squad must rescue the mole and stop evil from winning the war.

I am sure that this must have seemed like a good idea on paper. Hell, just re-reading my short synopsis of the film makes it sound better than it actually is.

There is no doubt in my mind that this film was most likely intended to be a parody or a satire of old war films like The Dirty Dozen or The Guns of Navarone but with a supernatural twist. Unfortunately the film is so bad, it isn’t funny. It is just horrendously awful.

The lines are leaden and so full of stereotypical clichés that it hurts the ears to listen to them. The acting is so wooden that a tinker-toy could have acted rings around any chosen member of the cast. The story, which as I said above, wouldn’t be bad except for the dodgy effects, plot holes, poor cinematography, ridiculous script and bad acting, could be a good one

I will say that there are a couple of instances where the special FX is fairly impressive, but only in a couple of places does it rise above mediocre. The explosions are obviously CGI as well as some of the sets. Again, I had the feeling that this “obvious” CG schtick was on purpose as part of the “gag.” It just doesn’t work.

From obvious clinkers like the lead character referring to an aluminium warehouse as a castle and the actors playing the Nazi occult specialist Thorn and the two scientists looking like the geeks that hang around the Radio Shack store or PC World in the 21st century, this film was so bad I felt cheated at the purchase price of three pounds sterling (or about 5 bucks).

I had no idea that they had silicone in 1944!
I had no idea that they had silicone in 1944!

There were some laughably bad lines (generally from the Nazi members of the cast) that did bring the odd snort of laughter from me while watching. Lines like: “Get ze Girl!” and “Bring me ze virgin.” Not to mention, “She got avay.”

Sure, we know that “movie German’s say Zis und zat, und ze, but not quite zo cartoonish-ly.

I could write on for another 500 words about how bad this film actually is, but, I will stop fairly quickly. I don’t want to run this into the ground here. I do want to point out that with the availability of digital equipment that is being used widely in the Independent market right now, there was no reason for the film to look bad as well.

Amazingly, IMDb gave this film a score of 2.8! I can only assume that Dorsey or someone on the production side of things handed a few bucks under the table to give the movie some kind of score.

My final verdict is not 2, not 1, not any stars out of 5. I can only feel that this film might find an audience amongst the more “drug induced” viewers. Because the only way that this film could be entertaining would be if the target demographic was the “high-as-a-kite” clubs of the world.

Avoid at all cost and if it is offered to you for free?

Pay to watch another film!

The "tip-off" should have been the fact that the film is referred to as a "Cult Classic" on the cover!
The “tip-off” should have been the fact that the film is referred to as a “Cult Classic” on the cover!

The Taking (2013) BAPartists Update

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Since I posted my review of BAPartists first feature length film The Taking and interviewed the extremely talented duo of Lydelle Jackson and Cezil Reed I’ve gotten an update from Lydelle about how their Sidney World Premiere of the movie went.

The Taking premiered on the 13th of April at the A Night of Horror International Film Festival being held at the Dendy cinemas in Newtown in Victoria, Australia and  their screening was sold out!

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In Lydelle’s own words, here’s how the night went:

“The audience reaction was very very positive. We held a Q&A after the screening and I would say that about 90% of the audience stuck round for it, Which is good because usually the majority of the audience walks out after a film.

We were one of two films that sold out. The other was a film called cockneys versus zombies [sic] which had a few cast members from Snatch and Lock Stock and two Smoking Barrels. It’s a film that had a budget of 4mil pounds or 8mil US dollars approx, So it’s astonishing that our film out of all the others was the only other one to sell out and we had no stars!!”

Lydelle and Cezil are now getting lots of inquiries from potential distributors and we’ll let you know as soon as the film becomes available for viewing.

Cezil Reed
Cezil Reed

To keep updated with what this creative partnership is up to you can visit their website bapartfilms.com.

I am excited and pleased to learn that their film received such a positive reaction and can’t wait to hear when it will be available for distribution. I will post new information as and when I hear from Lydelle about the next stage of their film.

All that’s left for me to say now is, “Congratulations guys!”

Lydelle Jackosn
Lydelle Jackosn

BAPartists Interview AKA Lydelle Jackson & Cezil Reed & The Taking

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Lydelle Jackson
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Cezil Reed

On the 9th of March I did a review on the soon-to-be-released Indie “Art-House” Horror Film The Taking (just click on the link if you missed it) and the creators of the film (BAPart Films) graciously accepted my request for an interview.

BAPart Films is a partnership of Cezil Reed and Lydelle Jackson who both formed this company under the banner of BAPartists (which the pair started in 2009). The company makes music videos, commercials, short films and now feature films.

The Taking is their first feature film together. The film was written and directed by Cezil and Lydelle who went to the same middle school and used to bounce ideas off each other. Cezil was in film school while Lydelle majored in graphic design.

In the interview, the guys tell us about making their first film, their plans and what they’re going to do next. So everyone, meet Cezil and Lydelle aka BAPartists:

  MikesFilmTalk: What gave you the idea for the story of the film? *note: Both the guys answered questions but their answers will be “labelled” as BAPartists.*

BAPartists –  Hmm, lots of things kind of gave us the idea for the story, but mainly it derived from a dream that Cezil had were his soul was stripped away, and to him it was the most terrifying thing ever. That dream stuck with him for a while. He’s always sort of been afraid of things like that, ya know, evil things like: demons, curses, and mayonnaise. So that dream or fear of his was the seed idea that eventually turned into The Taking.

  MikesFilmTalk: Did you have a list of actors you wanted to work with on the film?

BAPartists –  We’ve created lists for other projects in the past but for The Taking we actually didn’t have a list. We just knew that the nature of low-budget movies like ours was not going to be welcomed by “name” actors. Especially, when you are a relative nobody and your shooting your first feature. Rather, we decided to focus on finding as many of the strongest actors in the Northern Virginia area as possible which worked out well for us. Although we did end up importing John Halas (Carl) from NYC, Alana Jackler (Jade) from New Jersey, and Lynnette Gaza (The Grandmother) from Chicago.

  MikesFilmTalk: Did you get them?

BAPartists – All the actors that we wanted, we got. We always have to remind ourselves of how lucky we were to get such talented cast and crew to participate in the film. Especially since we were barely paying (if at all), the shoot was in the rural woods; long hours, little food, sweltering heat, and simple items like mosquito repellent or bottled water were treasured luxuries. It was just super low-budget all the way around. It ‘s astonishing that everyone stuck with us through principal photography, and for the following year of pick-up days.

MikesFilmTalk: I really enjoyed the imagery and the sound of the film. How would you describe the film and does it bother you that you’re being put in the art house pigeonhole? 

BAPartists –  Thanks! Yeah, we really wanted to create a film where the sound design and music really worked side by side with the visuals. Often times sonics are under utilized and under appreciated…We really wanted to make something where the sound was equally as prominent and bold as the visual experience. Our sound designer, Craig Polding, did a wonderful job. Lydelle’s younger brother, Leland Jackson also known as Ahnnu in the underground music scene, scored the film…Anyways, back to your question! How would we describe the film? Good question…How about: A searing gambit of visuals with intellectual muscle and big ol’ ox balls..?

To answer the second part of this question, being pigeonholed into the art-house category is both a compliment and scary. We do think that we can have very strong art-house sensibilities when we want to flex that muscle, but we are also very controlled and believe that we can cook up some amazing shit in any genre. It may sound cocky, but we believe it. So, while we find it to be a compliment, we are going to be sure to try our best not to be pigeonholed. How do we accomplish that? Well, our next film will be a much more market-friendly action film! We have a lot to share to the world from horror to comedy and don’t want to get stuck in one place!!!

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MikesFilmTalk: You  guys have known each other for quite some time and you started BAPart in 2009.  What prompted you to start your business together?

BAPartists –  We had been hired to write a script for a very well-off friend of ours who is an aspiring actress. This friend wanted us to write a feature-length script and she would take the lead role. She was also going to fund it and give us writing and directing credits. Not a bad deal, right?! Well, we spent almost a year and a half writing this really amazing script, but due to a lot of creative differences we all decided that then was not the best time to work together. Nonetheless, we’re all still great friends! However, after that disappointment, we decided that we needed to depend on ourselves to make our first film. We weren’t rich, but we had full-time jobs and so we began to just save our paychecks while starting development on The Taking script.

MikesFilmTalk: Do you see yourselves working together, say ten years from now?

BAPartists –  The plan is to work together until we are old and grey, so ‘yes’, we do plan to be working together ten painful years from now.  Without the creative synergy between the two of us we wouldn’t be The BAPartists. It’d just be Cezil Reed and Lydelle Jackson. The BAPartists moniker is meant to be a sign to our audience that there’s a particular sort of brand, flavor, angle to expect from a BAPartists film.

  MikesFilmTalk: I read your interview on The Horror Chronicles (great interview by the way) is your next feature going to be a vampire love-story?

BAPartists –  You know, we do want to do our vampire love-story, however, we’ve been given an opportunity to take on a more mainstream project and so we’ll have to explore that opportunity before anything else. For now the vampire love-story will sit on the back burner for a little while.

 MikesFilmTalk: You’re getting a world premiere date announced at the Sydney, Australia A Night of Horror Intl Film Festival. How exciting is that?

BAPartists – Man, it’s so exciting that it makes my nose bleed! We’re so eager to see what the audience will make of The Taking. We’re really confident in the film but it’s still surreal at the same time. I think the best word to use in this case is “anxious”.

MikesFilmTalk: I’ve seen your music video Trew Music “Incredible, Fantastic Experience” and your Ecko Life commercial; your special projects “Behind the scenes Ciara and Sorry; your short film The Glimpse and they all have the same great mix of imagery and sound. What prompted you to go into making a short film and then a feature-length one?

BAPartists – We see short films, music videos, and commercials as a healthy way to practice our craft. These short form video projects also allow you to experiment a lot more than a feature would. Those experimentations may help you find something that you decide you want to implement into larger projects too.

MikesFilmTalk: Out of the two of you, who is more of a writer and who is more of a director?

BAPartists –  We do everything in tandem. So we write equally and direct together as well. However, on set Cezil is more of the director while I’m more of a creative producer. This combination seems to work really well for us. In post-production we go back into co-directing how the editing, sound design, music, color grading, et cetera will work.

MikesFilmTalk: I love the Crime Fighting section on your website. Whose idea was that? 

BAPartists –  Haha, actually, when we were designing our site Cezil said “It’d be cool to have a little joke on the site too.”…”a few gin and tonics later, I (Lydelle) came up with the idea for Crime Fighting.”, so again, teamwork works!

 MikesFilmTalk: I’ve had a lot of people asking me where they can see the film. So what is the date of The Taking’s world premiere? 

BAPartists –  Well, we’ll be premiering The Taking at A Night of Horror International Film Festival in Sydney, Australia on the evening of either Friday, April 12th or Saturday, April 13th. The date will be announced very shortly.

 MikesFilmTalk: And finally, what is your next project going to be?

BAPartists – We were fortunate that some folks at a production company saw a copy of The Taking and really liked it. They’ve offered us an opportunity to make a more mainstream yet ‘different’ action film. It’s an opportunity that we can’t turn down and we’re really excited to take on the challenge of creating something that is both very marketable and yet still remains very artful, especially in the action genre. So, if all goes well, our next film will be an action film based around an alcoholic modern-day ninja. Can’t give ya any more details than that at the moment but trust me, it’s gonna be awesome!…we hope.

  MikesFilmTalk: Thanks a lot guys for taking (Get it? Get it?) the time to talk to Mikes Film Talk and I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of your work!

BAPartists – Haha! Thanks to you too, Mike! We like ya because you have good taste in things…like, horror films.

Here’s the movie’s website which will give you some more information about the film thetakingmovie.com. They also have two websites devoted to their company: www.bapartfilms.com and www.thebapartists.com.

And finally, here’s the trailer:

Atrocious (2010): A Horror Film by any Other Name…

Written and directed by Fernando Barreda Luna, Atrocious opened to mixed reviews most notably from Rotten Tomatoes. I will admit to having passed over this particular film several times on LOVEFILM. The thumbnail combined with the films short description did nothing to peak my interest. The film’s title also did nothing to help sell the film. I am still at a bit of a loss to understand why it was titled Atrocious.

Finally curiosity forced me to give the film a try and I’m not sorry I did. The film was edited very well and the guerilla style of film-making helped to bring the events to life. I was afraid that the film was going to be another ‘Blair Witch‘ or ‘Paranormal’ or even ‘Cloverfield‘ and that it just would not be worth the time it took to watch the film.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. The film may have borrowed a little from each of the three mentioned titles, but they borrowed so little that it wasn’t readily noticeable.

The film’s plot is quite straight forward. The Quintanilla are going to their summer home for a holiday. Once there the two older children, Cristian and his sister July, continue to work on a video they started making before they arrived at the summer home.

Intrigued by an urban myth about the forest surrounding their summer home, they decide to focus their video on the woods and the myth itself. The myth says that if you are lost in the woods the spirit of a girl called Melinda will guide you or show you the right way out of the woods.

Cristian and July decided to explore the forest and see if they can get to the heart of the myth. In the meantime their younger brother Jose must keep himself entertained and mother keeps busy doing things around the house. Their father has been called away on business.

When mother finds out that they have been filming in the woods, she freaks out and forbids them from entering the forest. They pretty much ignore this new rule and when the family dog goes missing, the first place the kids go to look is the forest.

Despite the fact that this is Luna’s first feature length film, he proves that he is more than capable of using suspense in the best way possible to make some of the scenes excruciating to watch. As the suspense mounts up, it takes very little for your imagination to take over and send you into a child-like state of fear.

Luna has also opted to use the absolute minimum of music in the soundtrack. The absence of ‘mood’ music helps to build the unease that we feel watching and puts the audience into an almost ‘fly-on-the-wall’ position.  When the final twist is exposed to the kids and us, we are shocked, confused and left slightly breathless. I certainly did not see the twist and it took me completely by surprise.

The film opens stating that what we are watching has been compiled from a police evidence tape. The entire family was found murdered and this the only footage of what happened. So even though you fully expect the family to die, when it happens, you are still surprised.

I  kept expecting the victims to get killed off much earlier. So that there was a ‘building’ body count. Luna decided not to take that route and chose instead to shock us all at once.

The scenes in the forest at night were extremely well done and even had the odd bit of comedy thrown in which helped to make the footage seem more real. The young actors playing Cristian and July (Cristian ValenciaClara Moraleda) really felt like a brother and sister with the way they interacted with one another.

Overall this film was a lovely little surprise that, despite the somewhat confusing title, really delivered as a horror film. I can say that Atrocious is one of the better horror films I’ve seen this year.

If you go into the woods today…