Recently I attended Henry Rollins spoken word show, and he talked about a lot of things, but one thing that stood out to me was how he feels about judging independent acts who have put a lot of work and effort into a film. He knows how difficult it is to create a film, and how even more difficult it is to create art in film, so it always rubbed him the wrong way to be asked to judge or criticize someones effort. I feel the same way, and when an indie outfit sends Nevermore a film to review, I am very reluctant to review it. Here at Nevermore, we do love low budget, shitty horror films. I personally like them because money seems to corrupt the purity of a film’s message, and stifles the creativity of the people involved. Simply put, hungry people make better films. This is not one of those films.
Last night I watched Altar, a found footage horror film (you might already know how I feel about that genre) written and directed by Mathew Sconce. Altar, is about a group of young college friends who go out into the woods and get mixed up with a scary guy, an axe, and some supernatural shit that they have to deal with. Altar has a creepy atmosphere, an interesting villain, and decent characters with a range of personalities. Altar has some really great shining moments which has earned them a couple of Crimson screen awards for 2017. Those bright spots were the performances of Jesse Parr, and Michael Wainwright. Jesse Parr plays the main character, a younger brother whose Asperger’s syndrome keeps him afraid and awkward. His performance was legit and his growth over the course of the film was very interesting. In fact, I wish that he had gotten more screen time. The other gem was Michael Wainwright, who plays, Ripper, the guy who flexes on bros with an axe. The movie totally missed the mark by introducing us to an epic character, and then neglecting to use him to advance the plot at all.
There are quite a lot of things that this movie got wrong and none of them have to do with it being low budget or a found footage film. I don’t feel comfortable bashing someone’s art. So I wont. However, if I had to offer up one critique, I would ask for a more developed theme. Horror films expose us to a part of ourselves that we don’t want to see, but also can’t resist looking at. Altar tried to explore the theme of misjudging others based on their appearance. Altar could have developed that idea further, and I would have loved to see more screen time devoted to that end. Otherwise its not too bad. I look forward to seeing more from Mathew Sconce, once he nails his voice and style more.
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.