Directed by Anthony Doublin
Written by Philip R. Calderone
I support indie horror in all its forms. Low low budget to the straight to DVD cash ins, some of the most creative fun films come independently.
Via a screener from Mr. Calderone, I had a chance to watch Manhater, which is pure DIY filmmaking where everybody has multiple jobs and the crew and cast does it for the joy of making a good movie. You see that passion and excitement in these low budget flicks. I saw it in movies like Thicker than Water: The Vampire Diaries and Incest Death Squad which turn out surprisingly good but some turn out not so good like The Landlord and Dismal.
So I grade these indie/low budget movies on an indie curve. I forgive the special effects, the mediocre acting and the lack of sets. I try to focus on the story, the filmmaking and anything that seemed to be ambitious that worked.
Manhater is definitely ambitious film that is like a cross between a Lifetime movie of the week, Species and Supernatural. It's described as a "horror thriller" driven with story but somehow it shortcuts its way to a typical set up, kill scene loopy loop.
So what's the initial prognosis? Manhater is a supernatural pseudo rape and revenge movie pure and simple. Have I ever seen a supernatural women scorn revenge film? Nope. This is what makes it different and also interesting to watch. It's not without its flaws in story, sometimes laughable FX and stiff actors. But hey, it's got a porn star on the cover and its got gore and that gets at least a half a spinkick in my book.
A vulnerable woman, years of cheating boyfriends and finally an abusive husband--a perfect setup for revenge. But what if you're too beaten down to take things into your own hands? What if you just want out, just want it all to stop, just want them all to go away...and then what if it happens?
According to the filmmakers, the movie had to fulfill the following criteria for funding and distribution.
That only leaves the story of Vonda and her life. Seems she's been in bad relationships with 5 BFs that have left her scarred. On her friend's advice she meets Eileen, a witch who wishes to harness the powers of the great goddess of war Enyo. Using Vonda as a catalyst, Enyo is summoned and starts offing V's exes.
There are a few choice scenes of Vonda being abused but a true revenge movie jacks up the abuse to the max. We only see this with one BF Bruce but not the others. It made me sympathize with the exes as though their all douchebags, none of them really deserved to die. If we had seen a few flashbacks of man on woman fuckedupness, I would have empathized with Vonda more.
Later, the movie goes into generic mode where we see set up and kill scene from Enyo (who can transform from a LA hooker to a ghost white monster at a moments notice). Sort of like Natasha Henstridge in Species she seeks out the exes, seduces them and kills them. Her weaponry and our Gore-ipedia? Kreuger like finger nails that slice and dice. We get a few choice splatter scenes involved shower trauma, decapitations, and gut spillage. Nothing I'm writing Dread Central about.
The movie is cheesy even by SyFy standards but the effort is there. Even for a minimal budget flick like this, seeing the creativeness and collaboration is remarkable. The special effects were a little goofy and I'm sure they could have done without it. They could have easily edited or inferred "magic" was being done instead of Photoshopping some effects in.
So how does this all grade? Manhater is overly ambitious and makes every effort to go beyond its means. You applaud the effort but the result is ehhh. The story is solid, performances by Emelle are good while the others are cardboardy stiff. But what will make Manhater memorable is the titular character Enyo with emphasis on tit. Ariel X who is a porn star is naked in like 80% of the movie and belts out the best one liners and kill scenes in the entire flick.
There are good low budget horror movies and there are really bad dollar bin ones. This gets 2 spinkicks and ends up average.
Best way to sum it up is what I tweeted after watching the flick:
"Watched an indie horror "thriller" #manhater. Had blood, nudity and a pornstar vengeance demon. All in all my rating is "ehhh..boobs!"
I mentioned Ariel X a bondage porn star is naked in this 80% of the time right?
The decapitation special effect.
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
Head over to the official site for more info. You never know where you might find this film, be it Blockbuster, Netflix or a dollar bin. Hey at least it's not a remake of a remake of a remake.
Check out the trailer below.