Monday, 25 June 2012



I didn't attend Frightfest in Glasgow earlier this year, so I missed their screening of this mixture of ghosts, spiritualists, serial killers and self-inflicted castration that, to be frank, doesn't work but has a couple of decent moments and at least it never gets boring thanks to a wealth of incident. It's yet another entry in the After Dark stable of low-budget horrors, and while it's slightly better than the likes of Seconds Apart or Prowl, it's ultimately a bit of a mess and there are only one or two occasions where you feel the urge to look away as something scary might happen. That's really not enough when a film like Insidious can have you peeking through your fingers for most of the first hour.

Cassadaga is an actual place in Florida, and it is still billed as the Psychic Capital Of The World, although according to Wiki it's an "unincorporated community" rather than a university town. But it's where deaf art teacher Lily (Kelen Coleman) retreats to following the death of her kid sister in a car accident. She attempts to contact her at a seance, but another vengeful spirit comes through instead and latches on to Lily until she can solve the mystery of how she died. Sadly, from then on it's a series of freakouts, dream sequences, bursts of subliminally glimpsed clues and sneaking round a vast Southern mansion occupied by just two people but which makes Southfork look like a cluster house. And what's it all got to do with the (frankly very unsettling) pre-credits sequence in which a teenage boy cuts his wang off in front of his horrified mother?

What the mysterious mad killer is doing with kidnapped girls in his/her secret lair is admittedly genuinely horrible and nasty, but it's never explained why he/she only appears to strike every four years (certainly no mention is made of anyone else disappearing from the area). To be honest it would probably have been better if they'd ditched that aspect entirely and just concentrated on the one victim, and maybe racked up the suspense by bunking up the roster of suspects, as the murderer's identity isn't that hard to guess from such a very short list.

Cassadaga isn't terrible: it's never dull and it doesn't play for laughs, and the characters all have a bit of backstory and life experience to make them slightly more interesting than the empty plastic teens of too many cheap horror movies. But even in the scenes in the maniac's hideaway it never gets truly creepy or unnerving, and for the most part the film doesn't have anything like enough in the way of tension, which is a shame. The result is that it's pretty ordinary, pretty average, and pretty forgettable.



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