Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Good Sisters (2009)

Just to let you know, this review is courtesy of a screener sent to me about a week ago. Yes, it's been sitting on top of my "to-see" pile for a while, but life's been a bit complicated and work kept getting in the way of popping this flick into my DVD player.

Now, the reason I wanted to tell you about this being a screener (aside from the pride that someone sent me it to me for a review on my blog) is that I feel you should know that little fact. All the other reviews I've written involved movies that I either paid for, or saw for free on the internet or in a public preview. As this is my first screener, I felt you should know I will always mention when someone sends me a movie to review. I don't think this will altered my opinion of the film, as I'd rather have to buy the movie than lie to keep the free DVDs coming my way. But I think it's only fair I let you know about my screener policy.

Anyway, on the the review....

Debbie Rochon need to be in better movies. That's not to say The Good Sisters is a bad film, but Rochon is a far better actor than most B scream queens out there. Why someone working on, say, the Nightmare on Elm Street remake didn't snag her for a role, I have no idea. She really should be in bigger movies, though films like The Good Sisters will be lacking if she leaves low budget film making.

The movie follows sisters Breanne (Rochon) and Kindra (April Monique Burril) Good, two witches living in a boarding house. Their neighbors put up with the pair's odd chanting, but a new boarder (David Calhoun) has them on edge. They start to find clues that someone is knows about their witchy ways and might be out to do them harm. As their paranoia increases, so does the intensity of the spells they cast to protect themselves and, ultimately, attack those they perceive as a threat.

It's a simple story, well told, but suffering from a few pitfalls. The acting is a bit sloppy at times, though not bad enough to detract from the story. Director Jimmyo Burril does a decent job, but some of his video effects are questionable. Fast motion and skip frame sequences seem added in only because he had the ability to use them. The sequence by the riverside is the greatest offender, a jarring scene that would have benefited by a less distracting touch.

And his insertion of a overly long nude scene towards the end of the film is very out of place. Shot in such a leering manner, this moment derails the film's building climax and everything else up to that point.

Look, I know he was trying to show how this spell was the most powerful one the sister had cast during the movie. And I get the idea that the sexual energy released during the casting would add to the spell's power. But such a prolonged sequence, with the camera zooming to fill the screen with the actress's breasts, comes off as cheap, exploitative, and jarringly out of place with the rest of the film.

I also think the ending could have used a bit more work. Sure, the audience is given the final pieces of the puzzle, but it just doesn't fit together. Jimmyo Burril's screenplay leaves too many open holes, too many questions unanswered. I think a bit more set up earlier, concerning some of the secondary characters, would have helped in this regard.

And, finally, while we see the sisters casting spells, nothing ever comes of them. And they aren't sacrificing babies or animals when the film opens, so why are they so nervous? We are never given a solid clue as to way these witches are worried about being hunted down. Sure, the Salem witch trials mentioned throughout the film, but something in the sister's recent past would have made their paranoia, and their actions, more believable.

On the plus side, Rochon and April Burril play off each other well. And I loved the slowly building sense of paranoia conveyed in the movie, even if the story's conclusion let me down.

In short, The Good Sisters contains some solid work, despite it's flaws. And it stands as yet another example of why Debbie Rochon needs to be in bigger pictures.