Suspension review: Much more than your average horror film.
Director: Jeffery Scott Lando
Cast: Ellen MacNevin , Barry Nerling, Taylor Russell, Connor Fielding, Sage Brocklebank, Duncan Ollerenshaw, Steve Richmond.
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Synopsis: On the tenth anniversary of her father’s psychotic break and murderous rampage, a young girl and her bullying high school classmates are terrorised by his alleged escape and determination to finish what he started.
I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of the horror genre and it’s tropes. I could say that it was because I was a child of the 80s and nothing that came thereafter could compare to that decade of slash and dice but I won’t. What I will say is that I was challenged to experience the macabre madness at Film4 Frightfest and whilst I love a good challenge, I love that its reopened my eyes – wide open – to a genre adored by so many ardent fans.
Case in point, Jeffery Scott Lando’s artful slasher flick Suspension. Opening with a quintessential trope in a hand-held home movie style, audiences are introduced to vengeful dominatrix Paula who invites her pay-per-view viewers to watch her domination and execution of Suspension’s premise Tom Hanson (Barry Nerling): a man who murdered his son after a psychotic break ten years prior. The ensuing action may go awry like any good slasher flick but it is Lando’s visual shaping that will have you utterly transfixed.
Reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Sin City, Lando’s suspension d’incrédulité is highlighted throughout the film with rendered splashes of bright blood red on iconic objects such as the barn and bloody victims. It also transitions nicely between the planes of reality through the use of a comic strip drawn and rendered by the film’s protagonist Emily Hanson (Ellen MacNevin).
Bullied and taunted by her fellow high-school peers over her family’s sordid past, psychologically damaged Emily prefers to shy away from socialising and instead, immerse herself in her comic art. Following a humiliating and traumatising incident in the school bathroom on her father’s anniversary, Emily decides to spend it at home with her mute baby brother Jeremy (Connor Fielding) rather than attending a house party with her friend Carrie (Taylor Russell). Forgotten at school by her friend and mother, Emily reticently accepts a lift home by Sheriff Mitchum (Duncan Ollerenshaw) who has a soft spot for Emily’s family and their mistreatment within their small, rural community.
As the evening wears on and Emily’s line between reality and fantasy begins to blur through the pages of her comic strip. It quickly becomes apparent that there may be more to Emily’s drawings, and that her father may have indeed escaped from the confines of his cage and is on a determined path to finish off what he started. Like any good slasher film, the reality of the situation comes to a bloody head as a number of different parties converge on Emily’s front door. Who will be the last girl…or boy standing?
Suspension is an arresting and well-constructed film that I thoroughly enjoyed. Sure, it has the stereotypical traits one comes to expect from such a teen angst slashfest, but it’s MacNevin’s hypnotising portrayal of a fragile and innocent loner that uplifts the quality of the dead teen film and incredulity that she is positioned as an unstable killer. Likewise, I also found hapless Deputy Jacobs (Sage Brocklebank) to be thoroughly entertaining. Writer Kevin Mosley manages to create a comedic character that offers apt moments of comic relief whilst simultaneously never feeling like he is overtly forced nor out of context. It’s a clever homage to such a reviled sub-genre.
What I enjoyed most about the film however, is its visual aspects. The magical and hauntingly beautiful grey skies are just sublime and juxtapose nicely against the dark and dreariness of its locale and intermittent splashes of bright red blood.
If you’re someone (like me) not usually sold on horrors, take a chance and make the effort to see this one. It’s good. Much more than your average horror film, with layered twists and turns that will have you completely transfixed and questioning perceived expectations.
Suspension review, Sacha Hall, August 2015.
Suspension will premiere in the UK at FrightFest 2015 on 31 August at 12:50pm.