Since his appearance in Jackson Stewart’s Beyond the Gates, Graham Skipper has become a regular fixture at Arrow Video FrightFest, and this year is no exception with him starring in Mystery Spot. Directed and written by Mel House, the story is one that works best when kept under wraps, but revolves around an abandoned mystery spot attraction and the strange power it wields over the guests at a nearby motel. It’s a mind-bending and captivating slice of science-fiction laced drama, one that packs a heavy emotional punch. House knows exactly which strings to pull to elicit all kinds of feelings, and you might need a pack of tissues or two to survive Mystery Spot.
Mystery Spot also gives Graham Skipper a more serious and dramatic role than the FrightFest audience will have seen from him before. Here he plays Nathan, a man trapped away from his family as he spends his days capturing the audition tapes of actors. It’s a really heavy and serious character and one that gives plenty of meat for Skipper to chew on. Alongside him we have Lisa Wilcox, star of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, as Rachel, a woman grieving the death of her husband. Again, it’s an incredibly dramatic role and one that Wilcox clearly had a ball playing.
Both Skipper and Wilcox have worked with House in some capacity in the past, and were both invited onboard the project fairly whilst in its infancy. This involvement from so early on means that House has been able to shape and develop the roles with his actor’s talents and abilities at the forefront of his mind. House also holds back, keeping Mystery Spot fairly restrained, allowing Skipper and Wilcox to dig deep to really showcase the turmoil and flux that their characters are in. There are lots of long scenes of conversations as these two characters get to know one another, House not afraid to just take in the silence and beauty of the stillness to get his story across. With House giving his leads so much space to breathe, we get some intimate and calm performances that unsettle when juxtaposed against the sinister aspect of the plot.
With some of the emotional portions of the plot lifted from House’s own life, there’s a heavy weight to Mystery Spot, but there’s also a beauty to this pathos. Some killer performances played with care and respect ensure that Mystery Spot gets inside your head and under the skin.
Intriguing, interesting, and enigmatic, Mystery Spot might take a while to arrive at its conclusion due its slow and steady approach, but the journey is worth the patience. A haunting and emotive science fiction laced drama, Mystery Spot is beautifully different and endlessly enthralling.
Mystery Spot was reviewed at Arrow Video FrightFest 2021.