***This is the first post in a new feature I plan to showcase here at The Schleicher Spin called Spotlight on the Independent Arts.
The goal is to give exposure to, encourage collaboration with, and provide honest critiques for independent artists. I hope to feature filmmakers, writers, photographers, painters and musicians. As an independent author, I feel it’s important to support and celebrate those working independently to forge their careers in the arts.
If you are an independent artist interested in having your film, book, music or art considered by The Schleicher Spin for a Spotlight feature, please submit a comment.
The first entry will focus on the IFC film, The Skeptic, written and directed by Tennyson Bardwell.
Independent Film: The Skeptic
The Lowdown: An emotionless lawyer (Tim Daly) inherits the creepy, old house of his recently deceased aunt. To get away from his crumbling marriage, he moves into the house and quickly encounters strange occurrences and uncovers family secrets which challenge his militant skepticism of all things paranormal.
The Direction: Tennyson Bardwell crafts a solid though stilted, old-fashioned psychological character study parading as a “ghost story” designed to counteract the viewer fatigue from all those Asian-horror remakes and torture-porn gore-fests that have ruled the roost for most of the past decade.
The Writing: Bardwell also worked as the screenwriter and does a pretty good job setting up the “skeptic turning into a believer” scenario with some nice twists involving a scientist studying the paranormal. As is inherent to the genre, the dialogue is mostly expository and serves its purpose well. However, one could imagine with a few more rewrites or a collaborator, there could’ve been a bit more “meat” to the character development and back-stories.
The Cast: It’s fun to see Zoe Saldana (pre-career takeoff) as a psychologically damaged and daffy “psychic”. The rest of the cast is filled with familiar and capable B-level stars like Tom Arnold (surprisingly not bad here), Robert Prosky and Edward Hermann. In the lead role, Tim Daly (the former TV star of Wings) acquits himself nicely.
Production Values: The Skeptic has the look and feel of a high-end cable TV movie. Always crucial to films that go bump in the night, the sound design (done here by Tandem Sound) is especially effective and rivals that of any big-budget studio production.
The Final Spin: The Skeptic makes for a decent rainy-day time killer and will be refreshing for many who are sick of the current string of gonzo horror films that plague the multiplexes. Bardwell attempts to create something along the lines of The Others or The Orphanage and almost pulls it off, though the ending doesn’t pack the emotional wallop he probably intended. There are plenty of nice elements to be found here and good production values. One imagines with a bigger budget and the right collaborators, Bardwell could one day produce some profitable and entertaining counter-programming to Hollywood horror.
Written by David H. Schleicher