Son of Terror
Runtime: 105 mins.
Director: Antony De Gennaro
Writer: Antony De Gennaro
Distributor: Maxim Media International
Watching indie films can be hazardous to your viewing health. They should slap warning labels on these things like cigarettes: “WARNING: This movie may or may not entertain you for the runtime on the back of the box.” Many times you see the filmmaker trying hard to tell the story under the constraints imposed and fail, for one reason or another. Lack of budget is one of those myriad reasons cited. It’s proof that this business is tougher than many think.
Son of Terror is indeed low-budget. One has only to look at the credits list. Antony DeGennaro, in addition to writing and directing also wears the hats of Producer, Musician, Editor, Casting, Art Direction, Set Decoration, Costume Design, Props, and Cinematographer. It doesn’t get much more indie than that unless you’re talking about El Mariachi.
A lot of viewers go by the old equation of “Low Budget = Bad”. I put forth that this is a disingenuous equation. And it is certaintly not so with Son of Terror, although at first glance it may be dismissed. In this day and age of instant gratification and instant negativity, that is sad.
This is one of those hidden gems that’s worth looking at if you want something that, while low-budget, has some good visually artistic sensibilities and tries very hard to overcome its shortcomings. In almost every aspect it succeeds despite the great odds I know it had to overcome just to get made. SoT is a labor of love and belief.
I’m going to try and not reveal any spoilers here in case you do decide to watch.
Our boy John (Ben Andrews) has been having some problems as of late. He’s a struggling photographer trying hard to be recognized for his work. On top of that he’s having some relationship issues with his oft-acerbic girlfriend and being put upon by his friends.
In addition, he’s been having some bad headaches. Not to mention that his inner monster is now letting itself loose (played masterfully by Alan Sutherland). And frankly, he’s ready to get out there and do some killin’.
Some people may find difficulty with scenes that transition from one to another with no direct, overt reason. That is, unless, you’ve watched some of the earlier work of Lynch such as Eraserhead.
Where Mr. Lynch uses the heating register to access a strange, subconscious world, De Gennaro uses the television as a visual metaphor for the character’s world view for the demon living in him. It can also be seen as a play on how we tend to get our world view through the filter of television and media.
The sound design is also very reminiscent of the nightmarish soundscapes found in Blue Velvet, another Lynch classic. I’m very aurally-centered, so sound is something I notice very quickly. There are points in the film where the musical track tends grow out of the background sound, so much so that you don’t notice except that the hair on the back of your neck is standing up.
At times the acting can come off as somewhat stiff, but we can and should forgive that. Everything has its place in this film, including the supporting characters, who contribute either directly or indirectly to John’s psychological state.
At the heart of it, we’re watching a man disintegrate into murder. Instead of merely watching from the outside, we get a stylized glimpse into John’s internal pain and anguish, visualized in the form of piercings and bondage.
Shot in and around Seattle, many natives of the area may recognize some of the locations including Pioneer Square.
The DVD comes packed with extra features, including interviews with many of the stars and producers, as well as some deleted footage.
Given how much he managed to squeeze out into this film, Antony De Genarro should be given a slightly higher budget and see how much more he can squeeze into every frame of this visual medium.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Admittedly, I almost wrote this one off but I went back and watched it several times. I suspect many will watch it once or look at the title and expect it to be cheap and without any visual substance. In fact, it is full of that off-kilter visuals that seems to be lacking even in larger-budget pictures these days.
Try not to write it off either and give it a shot, especially if you’re a Lynch fan or looking for a good psychological thriller that deconstructs the breakdown process visually both inside and out.