Original title : Exhumed
2011 – U.S.A.
Genre : Mysteries
Director : Richard Griffin
Music : Daniel Hildreth and Alec K. Redfearn
Screenplay : Guy Benoit
With Debbie Rochon, Sarah Nicklin, Michael Reed, Michael Thurber, Rich Tretheway and Evalena Marie
Synopsis : A warped and mysterious family are unable to leave the house they reside in for unknown reasons. When this strange brood decide to turn their captivity into a sick and violent game, it challenges their very reality and puts all of their lives in great jeopardy.
After a few films, I decided to explore a little more the works of Richard Griffin, with his muse Sarah Nicklin, through his company Scorpio Films Releasing. And now it’s time to talk about Exhumed, film both his actress and director recommanded me. A work they are really proud of. And a work of art finally far away from their previous films, like Nun of That, Atomic Brain Invasion and The Disco Exorcist. In fact even the opposite we could say. Because Exhumed is a serious film, with no place for humor. Shot on 11 days for $20K with the usual team of Richard Griffin on front (Sarah Nicklin, Michael Reed, Michael Thurber) and behind the camera (Daniel Hildreth for the music, J. Fish as a technician), Exhumed is simply a gem. An obvious tribute to the Hammer, Exhumed takes place in one place! I takes place in a house (except a few scenes), focuses on a limited number of characters, and prefers to deal with the atmosphere and the wait rather to action, gore and humour. We could even say Exhumed is more a drama than a horror film. A demanding drama, taking place behind closed doors, in a wonderful black and white, and with a slow pace, suitable to offer us a heavy atmosphere, and also a melancholic one.
We are invited to follow an almost « normal » family. They never leave their home. Why? How do they survive? You’ll have to see the movie to understand, without endless explanatory dialogues. So there is the Governess of the house, played by Debbie Rochon, scream queen well known from the amateur with such movies as Tromeo & Juliet in 1996, then Terror Firmer and Toxic Avenger 4. Next to her, the usual cast, with Sarah Nicklin, Michael Reed, Michael Thurber, Rich Tretheway (in a much more serious part than Nun of That), but also a new one, Evalena Marie. And when we know they won the Best Cast’s award at the Pollygrind Film Festival, no surprise! Because they are all exceptional, thankfully because the movie is mainly based on their psychology, and the relationship they have with each other. Yes of course, there are some bloody times (but discrete and realistic), but Exhumed is first of all a drama, a family drama, about a family that doesn’t work anymore. The character of Chris, played by Michael Reed, is the key element, the trigger, the external element to this family, looking for a room, and he will bring down the last pillars keeping this family standing.
His relationship with Laura (Sarah Nicklin) is one of the major strength of the film. Both of them deliver a very strong and fantastic performance, suitable for bringing out the emotion, and to develop the character of Laura to a dramatic dimension that never leave the film. And of course, their relationship will not necessarily be seen favorably, especially from the Governess of the house, Debbie Rochon. If the Governess will become harder, bitter and colder towards others, forcing her to make drastic choices, Laura will somehow turns inward to escape the world around her, convinced to have found what will make her happy. Without realizing of course that all this can only lead to one conclusion : the destruction of the family unit, and for Laura, her own destruction. With a clever and extremely well written script, Exhumed works thanks to the talent of its actors, but also with its sharpened technique. With a very small budget, the crew manages to provide sublime shots, with a splendid black and white, and a great 2.35 aspect ratio. And let’s not forget about the musical score, maybe repetitive but suiting perfectly all the scenes it illustrates. And all that together offer us an excellent film, and on top of it, a very sad and dark final. I highly recommend Exhumed!
A strong cast
A smart screenplay
A sad film and finale
Not everyone will like how slow it is
Sooooo : Exhumed is a great film, a gem in the independent genre cinema. Seriously filmed with great technique, led by involved actors, it’s probably the best, but also more mature and sad work of Richard Griffin