Film Review: The Black Dahlia Haunting (2012)

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SYNOPSIS:

While investigating the murder of her father by her blind younger brother, a young woman disturbs the vengeful spirit of Elizabeth Short, known in legend as “The Black Dahlia”.

REVIEW:

I’m sure that writer/director Brandon Slagle had a vision when it came to this project, and I would think that he was probably pretty happy with the way the film turned out, but it either went over my head, or I just missed something, but I didn’t get it.

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The plot seems simply enough, a woman goes to check up on her blind step brother who’s killed his parents and is now locked up. Then you get the weird almost strewn together sub plots, the ghost of a woman named Elizabeth Short (Alexis Iacono) who is following the woman, Holly (Devanny Pinn), and also talking with her blind step brother, Tyler (Noah Dahl).

Then there is also a random stranger, Malcolm (who is played by director Brandon Slagle), who finds the dagger that is used to kill Elizabeth in the opening scene, in Bronson Canyon. In the movie it looks like he is clearly digging in a certain spot, if he was told to dig there, or if some feeling led him there is unknown. This character only appears a few random times in the movie, until he confronts Tyler near the end of the movie. He has no known relationship with either Tyler or Holly. He also appears to be acting strange in his scenes, but it’s hard to tell since there is no back story on this character.

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Most of the movie is a battle between Holly, and Dr. Brian Owen, who is the doctor assigned to take care of Tyler. He comes off cold and unwelcoming towards Holly even though he is the one who requested her to fly from New York to Los Angeles to talk to him. This is the point in the movie where Holly starts seeing the Elizabeth Short ghost. The connection is immediate to the viewer that this is the same woman that was tortured and killed in the opening scene of the movie. The plot lingers for a little bit as Elizabeth haunts Holly, and also as Tyler and Elizabeth’s psychic connection gets stronger. The movie ends on a very predictable scene, and is anticlimactic.

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Tyler is really the only interesting character in this movie, Noah does a great job with the part and if you didn’t know this was a movie, you would think that he was actually blind. The character feels deeper than the others, he draws you into the plot with his back story and the chilling way he tells it. This is one of the few bright spots of this movie.

If you didn’t know the Black Dahlia murder is real, and is one of Los Angeles most gruesome unsolved murders. Elizabeth Short was an aspiring actress in Hollywood in the late 1940’s, she was singled out as woman that would sleep around to get what she needed, which was unheard of at this time in the country.

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She was tragically tortured and killed, her body was found cut in two on January 15, 1947. Over fifty people came forward to confess to the murder, but all had different stories, so the police couldn’t make an arrest. One of the more well known facts of this murder is that Elizabeth’s mouth had been cut in the corners up to her ears, causing her to have what is known as a Glasgow Smile. This has been more recently portrayed by the Heath Ledger’s Joker in Batman the Dark Knight.

There have been quite a few movies and books based on this one tragic event, the most famous and more recent movie being The Black Dahlia directed by Brian De Palma, and staring Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson. If you are looking for a movie based on the events of the murder, this is probably your best bet.

All in all I don’t want to say that this movie was bad, but be it the budgetary restraints, an estimated 2,000 dollars, which can really cut down anyone’s vision, or maybe even the time allowed to shoot it, but this one falls a little flat. I’m also wondering that if writer/director Slagle would have had another set of eyes on the script or someone to help direct, if the end product could have been saved. If I would rather watch the fake Walk with the Dead marathon that Holly is watching in the hotel room instead of the movie, then something went wrong.

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