Film Review: The Telling (2009)

SYNOPSIS:

In this horror anthology film, three girls pledge the most popular – and cruelest – sorority on campus. For their final task, they must tell the scariest story they know. Containing three distinct stories – one featuring a murderous doll, one a has-been actress and her run in with a film crew of the undead and, finally, a hunt-and-kill fright-fest. The tales inspire someone at the sorority to commit their own murders.

REVIEW:

First time Directors Nicholas Carpenter & Casey Ward bring us a new film featuring the lovely Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt
of the Girls Next Door series. The Telling is a anthology of 3 tales based around a sorority pledge requirement led by Holly Madison.

With a terrible incident occurring a year before where a pledge committed suicide, the sorority is forced to conduct their pledges in a more civilized orderly manner. Stephanie (Holly Madison ) the leader of the Omega Cappa Cappa fraternity proposes that in addition to the goodies the pledges have brought with them that they each tell a horror story to measure how scary it is for ranking on the candidates. Of course a perfect setup to segue into the 3 stories within the film. A sorority, an anthology of stories told ….and nothing new hear that we haven seen re-shaped over the years.

The determintation factor will come in the form of how successful the stories are within the story to entertain the viewers. The film is shot professionally and offers a nice mix of stories. The content though is pretty light for the general horror audience with the 3rd short offering the most tension of the 3.

The first short which belabors the age old idea of a doll that comes to life to cause mischief and murder is a bit tired of an idea that I could of done without. Besides all the Chuckie movies in existence, we have see this scenario done way too many times and even more in anthologies…..my vote is to lose that short altogether. Killer dolls are just boring and should be put out there misery.

The 2nd short is the most inventive. Bridget Marquardt who plays the starlet Eva De Marco is called into her first horror film role. The short is shot in B&W and offers a bit of old world charm to its delivery. While some of the characters are clique, the light plays beautifully off of Bridget giving her a fantastic glowing look that works to her advantage on screen. The concept involves the filmmaking crew of the undead who have created the most vile, unsettling images ever to be shot on film. It has a slight touch of Jean Rollins meets Kubrick, but only enough to claim as an influence. The film they are planning is called “The Crimson Echo”

The thing that got me most was that the sorority girls pretty much mirrored the reaction I had to the stories in their dialogs. So as they commented on how the stories “weren’t that scary” it only reinforced the fact that “they weren’t scary”. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not but it kind of defeats the purpose wouldn’t you think? Most of the acting players were sterio-typoical of a snobby sorority to the point that none of them presented much presence.

The film comes full circle with a few surprises that felt very much like when they unveiled them, they weren’t that big of a surprise. As far as horror films go, it was a bit light. Surely the inclusion of 2 name actors will draw curiosity, though perhaps the stories within should have been written a little more clever to reinforce that.

Holly Madison who while has appeared on TV a number of times has very little real acting roles that don’t involve her being a playboy Bunny. So it is interesting that one of her first is a horror film. My general thought is that the camera loves her and she knows how to present herself into the camera. However, her acting is still very green that is evidenced in the sort of uncomfortable nature she presents when reciting her lines. Bridget Marquardt who’s career has followed similar suite seems more at home with the challenge at hand even though her lines were more minimal in her short.

Again, the production was a quality production, thought loses points on a story that doesn’t deliver much. It was refreshing to see the girls in a forum that didn’t include Hugh Hefner.

The Telling (2009)

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