December 18, 2012

DVD Review: Fairview Falls - Insanity Edition

My first exposure to Glen Baisley and his work came a few years back at the inaugural Hudson Horror Show (if you have not had the pleasure of attending, look them up, they put on great shows). The show featured a few short pieces directed by Mr. Baisley, including the show introduction (featuring my first glimpse of the Black Rose Killer, whose presence casts a long shadow over Fairview Falls). While I was there primarily for the feature films (with Zombie and Evil Dead), it was certainly interesting to see some indie sensibilities playing in the horror playground.

Now, Fairview Falls has been called The Breakfast Club with a horror twist. It is an appropriate description. The cast is filled out by a variety of characters who are all ostensibly friends, but the sort of friends who only seem likely within the confines of a horror movie or a teen comedy (of which both elements are present here). They bicker, argue, stick up for each other, and mourn when things start to go wrong. Still, however you want to slice it, they are a an odd group to be certain. I am not sure I would want it any other way.

This indie horror is both deceptively simple and endlessly complex. That may sound very attractive, and quite often it is, but at other times it feels a little too complicated for its own good. What I mean is that there seems to be enough backstory and detail either crammed in or alluded to to fill a few seasons of a television series. Every character has a story to tell, presenting each of them as a damaged and fractured individuals. Despite what this may sound like, Fairview Falls is still a good ride.

The story starts just after the graduation ceremonies at the local high school. The gang has plans for some post-graduation festivities on the grounds of an abandoned movie lot. So, following the introductions of all the principal players, giving us a glimpse at their damaged backgrounds and and fractured psyches, they all gather at the old grounds.

Any veteran of horror cinema knows that if you have a gathering of young people in a remote and abandoned location, something bad is going to happen. Oh, did I mention that the property has a past? The B-movie king who owned it had been murdered some years before, the killer was never found. That just about seals the deal, doesn't it?

While the teens enjoy themselves, they are secretly being watched. Who could it be? What does he want? Who knows. Before long people start dying and the survivors are left to wonder who is out to kill them and who is next. It would seem that someone among their number is holding a secret, a secret that ties to the never found Black Rose Killer and a crazed preacher who had escaped an asylum years earlier.

I must admit, while I certainly enjoyed Fairview Falls, I had hoped to like it more than I did. As I had mentioned, there is a lot of information here, but it does not always fit together. I feel I am trying to put together a puzzle without knowing what it is supposed to look like. It is too bad, as there seems to be a lot of interesting stuff here. I like he secrets that come to light later in the film. The revelation of some of the motive, but I still do not feel that everything needed to put the pieces together.

The performances are generally solid, though definitely lacking in polish. The writing is good, if incomplete, as if there are a few missing chapters. However, even when sense seems to fall by the wayside, the colorful characters help pick up the slack, they are certainly an odd bunch of misfits.

Fairview Falls is an ambitious indie horror project undertaken by a man with a clear passion for the material. I suspect there is a rather late compendium of notes regarding the world Fairview Falls inhabits, explaining the complex relationships and intricacies of this universe. There really is a lot going on here, not all of which is easily explained.

What can I say? Fairview Falls does not completely work, but it does entertain in the process. It is a movie worth sending some time with and Glen Baisley is a man with vision and a voice worth keeping an eye on.

Audio/Video. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and for the most part looks pretty good. There is no disguising its low budget roots, but so what? There is a nice do it yourself vibe to the final look of the film. Detail tends towards the smooth, non existent side, but the definition and colors are fine. If you are looking for a Hollywood production, look elsewhere, if you understand what you are getting into, this looks just fine.

Audio is of the Dolby Digital 2.0 variety. Much like the video, it does not hide its indie roots, but it is always clear and does the job.

Extras. The Insanity Edition packs in a whole mess of bonus material.

  • Commentary. The track features writer/director Glen Baisley, producers Mike Lane and Jude Pucillo, Fangoria managing editor and creative consultant Michael Gingold, and star Joe Policastro. This is a good track with lots of information about the production, problems, antics, and plenty of detail. It is a fun listen and definitely worth listening to.
  • Pop Up Trivia. Runs as a subtitle track offering up information on the production and a variety of other topics. Nice.
  • Photo Gallery. A collection of photos from the production with accompanying music written and performed by Sal Sirchia.
  • Extended and Deleted Scenes. A 20-minute collection of cut bits. some stuff is worth checking out, but if they were left in, would have thrown off the pacing. 
  • Makeup FX Modeling Shoot. This certainly looks like a good time.
  • Anatomy of Horror. Opening with a discussion of guerrilla tactics, this takes a look at some of the practical gore effects. This is pretty cool.
  • Tongue Animatic. A clip featuring Glen Baisley and a severed tongue.
  • No Trespassing 2:No Exit. A short featuring a haunted house where all is not as it seems. This also has not one but three commentary tracks as well as a staged DVD signing and some set footage.
  • Domintion: Rellik vs. The Black Rose Killer. Another short. I recall seeing this at the inaugural Hudson Horror Show. It is a fun little clip with a couple of killers facing off with each other.
  • Behind the Scenes with the Putnam Valley Ambulance Corps. Gathering information to make accurate kills....
  • Return to Cimarron Ranch. A little location scouting video with some interesting background information.
  • Shooting the Shit. A collection of clips, random stuff, and some stuff about the production. An airing of grievances and curiosities.
  • Bloopers. A lengthy collection of flubs and goofs on set. 
  • Trailers. A collection of Light & Dark production trailers. Included are The Tenement, Fear of the Dark, Fairview Falls, and Sins of the Father

Buy or rent the movie HERE.

Check out the trailer:

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