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Film Review: Rift (2011)

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Jennifer Campbell an aspiring journalist works around the clock to exhume the horrific details of the infamous 2001 Town Creek Apartment murders. Allegedly based on actual events; a group of college kids were slaughtered under mysterious circumstances yet the killer was never caught and the case rendered by local police department as cold. Will Jennifer find the ultimate clues in solving this bizarre tale or will circumstances present the epiphany that some things are better left a mystery?


Directed by: LazRael Lison
Starring: Darcy Fowers, Alison Costello, Sonia Rockwell, Adam Cardon, Cory Lewis Pearman, Evalee Gurtz

To remain entirely diplomatic Rift is one hell of a head scratcher. There is a lot going on in this one hour, forty minutes. The past, present, conjecture and fact eclipses so clumsily into one another the average viewer is incapacitated with confusion and frustration that in all likelihood would force an early departure without watching the whole thing.

The cinematography is good and effective. No one can argue the production quality is up to industry standard. From the opening sequence of a prostitute engaged in seemingly forced relations the camera captures the action in all its grainy, filthy glory we’ve become so accustomed to through the Saw series and many of Eli Roth’s productions. This technique beckons the subconscious well in foreshadowing a most dreadful scenario indeed.

Shots of Jennifer Campbell (Darcy Fowers) in a darkroom reviewing evidence created an atmosphere consumed with moody suspense and harnessed quite brilliantly. Where the cinematic landslide of disaster ensues is a little unclear at this point. Given the previously mentioned variables Rift showed extraordinary innovative promise. As the visually esthetic Campbell delves deeper into the case, the camera tells a shaky story of cutting back to 2001 when the murders had transpired, to the present, occasionally back to 1972, to the present, back to scenes of necrophilia in an abandoned morgue to the present once again. I’d recommend if you can get past the first viewing to give the entire thing another shake again or perhaps there’s some sort of translation compendium that comes along with some discs I’m unaware of. Needless to state the visuals are above average yet the story telling as a result is cluttered, clumsy and convoluted at best.

The costumes and set design are without question effective. I don’t think anyone really doubts for a moment that the college students of 2001 are dressed in contemporary, chic fashion. The character of Jessica (Alison Costello) is disturbingly irritating but that kind of goes along with the territory in any slasher flick to want to cheer on the unholy antagonist to do away with the sniveling little brat. Which begs the questions that begin to spark at this junction: Is Rift a supernatural, Satanic cult movie? Is it an unsolved slasher flick? Is it a bizarre mish-mash of necrophilia, zombies and the supernatural? I regret not taking notes and will likely stomach through this one time and again for my own personal sanity.

Much of the scenery is within the Town Haven complex and even though it’s been renovated and revamped, the bowels of the basement habitat an alarming colony of vermin ruin and things that go bump in the night. This type of gruesome imagery works well for creating a mood but one has to know when to draw the line and not to rely too much upon the setting to tell the full story in itself.

The special effects and make up was spot on. Influences of our Japanese imports The Grudge and The Ring are evident. That skittish, creepy crawly apparition thing they do is carbon copied effectively enough. Amber Charms (Evalee Gurtz) does overdo it a smidge when doing the zombie strut towards some of her impending victims. It’s a spastic rendition of something we’d expect to see in a comical slant like Shaun of The Living Dead. They were perfectly set up to creep us right out then sadly we’re left scoffing in disbelief.

Many of the scenes within the mortuary are disturbing, content wise. It’s evident that the film board has become dramatically slacker in terms of ratings and its surprising this content was past at all. One frightful image scorched into my retinas is the nude corpse becoming reanimated to seek vengeance upon the perverted pathologist. This is the sort of Hollywood special effects magic that makes us dash back from the bathroom and consider sleeping with the lights on.

Perhaps another saving grace for Rift is the musical score and sound effects. For the most part each is subtle enough to truly provide their ultimate purpose. An orchestrated score beginning slow and foreboding and gradually rising in tempo and intensity create a strong sense of emotional attachment to the characters and the circumstances before them. It’s a shame that so much had gotten lost in muddled translation in the process.

A descent enough idea in terms of innovation but unfortunately Rift is inferior in terms of execution.

One out of five tombstones.

Rift (2011)

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