Film Review: Spare the Rod (2009)

SYNOPSIS:

When Allison is placed under house arrest she has no idea what awaits her. While awaiting her trial she encounters the spirit of a young girl named Karen who tries desperately to get Allison’s attention. As time passes she is forced to face her own demons never realizing that Karen is one of them. Will Allison live long enough to see her day in court or has her death sentence already been handed down.

REVIEW:

Written by: Brian Troxell
Directed by: Brian Troxell & Duane Reynolds
Starring: Julie Anne, Lindsey Riesen, Greg Jowers, and Cyndi Crotts

QUICK FIX:
Allison has been a very naughty monkey – she’s been accused of killing her only daughter (of course, she claims to be innocent…don’t they all?) and is now under house arrest, complete with the Lo-Jack on her ankle and a hard-nosed Colt Seavers wannabe checking up on her constantly. While staying all alone in the strange, new, court-appointed house awaiting her trial, she begins to have contact with Karen – the ghost of a young girl who at first appears to merely be playfully toying with Allison.

But soon her attempts at trying to get Allison’s undivided attention start taking a turn for the increasingly nasty and scary as hell, sanity-depleting variety. Will Allison be able to stay alive long enough to meet her court date? Or will Karen take her over to the spirit world, causing us already overburdened taxpayers to have to pick up the slack for another bail jumper?

RAMBLINGS:
“CHILDREN SHOULD BE SEEN, NOT HEARD.” – Tagline for SPARE THE ROD

That phrase is especially fitting when it comes to children’s ghosts; believe me when I tell ya. I love ghost stories like Oprah loves fad diets – have a true weakness for them, especially when ghostly kiddies are bringing the scares. I’ve grown fickle in my old age though, as it seems that for every HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL or 13 GHOSTS or GHOSTWATCHER; or going across the Pacific, for every JU-ON or RINGU or even TOMIE, we get stuck with watered-down Americanized versions like the GRUDGE or RING movies, which did nothing for me.

BUT, what those bean-counting suits in Hollywood couldn’t seem to do for me on a fright (or even a semi-entertaining) level in 105 minutes each, Mr. Brian Troxell and his fine cast and crew have done for me in just over 20 minutes. That’s right, I said it – SPARE THE ROD is a short film, and a damn effective one at that. Co-directors Troxell and Reynolds put together a very entertaining ghost story in a very short time, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next from these guys.

Julie Anne brings her badass self – which also includes striking, Julie Strain-type beauty and immense talent, I might add – along for the ride and once again, she does not disappoint. I first got acquainted with her work in the anthology flick SLICES – her segment was my favorite of the bunch, and that only increased my looking forward to seeing her here. As they say – the more I see of her, the more I want to see of her. So please, stay in our beloved genre and keep kicking ass!! Lindsey Riesen – I’m sure she’s a wonderful human being and an attractive young lady, but in the role of Karen, the spirit child harassing Allison, well…honestly, she creeped me right the f*ck out. That tells me she’s already honing her craft and is only going to get better as she gets older, so here’s hoping she stays in horror! The rest of the cast didn’t have nearly as much to do since let’s face it – this flick is about the two ladies – but I enjoyed every performance from Greg Jowers as Allison’s handler to Cyndi Crotts’ hilarious turn as a disgruntled pizza delivery girl.

LAST WORDS:
From what I can tell, there’s no distribution on this one yet, but you can get your very own copy directly from the Caisson Films website, and its well worth the price of admission.

Not a whole lot of blood in this one – the emphasis is more geared towards the creepy scares and the main character’s descent into madness in her solitude, and I was sold on it from the beginning. So that being said, there’s not really too much you can say about a short movie without giving too much away other than some positives and negatives. The positives – SPARE THE ROD is a kickassingly creepy, atmospheric, and frightening little ghost story, and I can’t recommend it enough. The negatives…well…my only real complaint is, I didn’t want it to be over so soon!!

Spare the Rod (2009)

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