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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine (2003)

I love horrror films that have a strong story, character development, a dark sense of humour... and gore.

Gabriel Verlaine and his commune are brutally murdered in a single night- leaving no clue as to who butchered eleven people.  A few years later, the only survivor, Rebecca Verlaine comes out of a coma with no memory of that horrific night.  Soon however, she starts to have disturbing visitations from her father... and finds herself a tool of his revenge...

"The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine" (aka- "The Garden of Love") starts off the horror during the opening sequence with lots of gore.  Director Olaf Ittenbach is known for his splatter gore... and he definately splatters the red stuff in the first scene.  It is an incredibly well shot sequence, with any editing done seamlessly.  It flowed smoothly and quickly.  The lighting was just amazing as were the camera angles used.  Just a stunning display of horror film making.  The gore was excellent too.  The amount of graphic detail in the mutilations (one woman's face is impaled with through the cheek, while another face is smashed with a cleaver) would seem to be gratuitious, but aren't as the brutality of it all sets up the motivation of the ghosts later in the movie.

After that, the story is relatively subdued, centering on building suspense and tension.  This is helped by the skill of Natacza Boon, who plays Rebecca Verlaine.  While she's not "Hollywood Hot" in looks, she fit the role perfectly as a woman that is scared in the beginning, but becomes strong enough to deal with the situation surrounding her.  She reminds me a lot of Shelly Duvall- but without the huge teeth I found distracting while watching "The Shining".  Alexandra Thom-Heinrich was pretty good as Barbara Creedon- Rebecca's adoptive mother too.

I really liked the way James Matthew looked in the role of the cop, Thomas Munster, though I found his character to be a little stereotypical and obvious in his portrayal.  His appearance at the end of the movie, while interesting, was a little over the top unfortunately.  I really didn't like David Riven, Rebecca's boyfriend who was played by Daryl Jackson.  From the start, I found him to be offputting and bland.  Don Creedon, portrayed by Donald Stewart (no relation) was also dull and lifeless as well.  The best of the male actors was Bela B. Fesenheimer- who plays the murdered Gabriel Verlaine.  His acting was just great.  He brought both a zombie like blankness of tone, and a demonic insistance on revenge to the character.  This was only enhanced by the gory and beautiful make-up he had on during his scenes.  The contact lenses especially were a great touch.  Fesenheimer was also great during the darkly comedic moment when his ghost is hosting an infomercial on TV selling knives.

This movie will probably be commented on in regards to the gore in it.  There are only three moments when there is any real gore.  The opening sequence, a nice bit in the middle, and the climax.  All are done well.  I especially enjoyed the first and second doses of the red stuff.  The kills are well choreographed, creative and have enough bodies to satisfy most horror fans.  My only complaint with the final set of kills is the speed in which it happens.  I would've liked to have had a slightly longer sequence.  As it was, I was a little disatisfied with the climax in that regard.  Overall though, I enjoyed the carnage splashed across walls, floors and ceilings.

Even though, I feel that the final set of kills could've been longer, I was quite satisfied with "The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine".  Enough so that, not only would I watch it again (and possibly even a few more times), I'm willing to place it in "The Good".

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