THE SONG OF SOLOMON (Released August 14,2018). MVD BLU RAY $24.95
(also available separately on DVD ($21.95) a Limited Edition (Blu-Ray/DVD of the film, and a CD soundtrack,3 discs) $39.98.)
Region A/1 NTSC. English. 1 disc .NR. 86 mins. Color. Unearthed Films. Dolby Digital 2.0. 1.85:1/16:9
The disc reviewed was the single Blu Ray disc.
When a film’s cover blurb has a quote: ‘In this critic’s opinion better than THE EXORCIST” (Spencer Evatt, House of Tortured Souls), you set expectations for something spectacular. Sadly, the film falls far short of the 1973 W.B. masterpiece. On its own, however, it is not a movie to be lightly dismissed.
T.S.O.S. is considered part of the American Guinea Pig series (begun in 2014 by Unearthed Films). The American Guinea Pig films are basically just gore effects and not much more. Wisely, they chose not to put the American Guinea Pig imprimatur on the cover, as it would perhaps limit its audience.
That said, gore fans will have a field day with a series of superior practical effects (no cgi snapping bones here, its on set splatter).
Indeed, the film is technically one of the better indie horror films that I have seen, with super sharp photography and cinematography, music and as mentioned in makeup trickery.
Where the film fails, and it is a problem that haunts a lot of indie films, is in the acting and pacing. Most of the cast either say their lines with an indifference that means they could as well just be going over their grocery list rather than a possession leading to many mutilations and murders, or with a stilted seriousness of trying too hard.
Writer/producer /director Stephen Biro is the founder / President of Unearthed Films. Besides his own work, unearthed has released several obscure Asian films, as well as an upcoming October 2018 release of the sadly neglected H.P. Lovecraft THE UNNAMEABLE (1988). Biro is also an author, who written several books about God and The Devil, as well screenplays for others.
T.S.O.S. opens with Mary’s father (one of the film’s make-up artists) having a screaming fit at his daughter, ending with him taking a knife, slitting his own throat, and then, reaching into the wound and pulling out his own tongue (sometimes referred to as a “Columbian necktie”, due to it being an act of mutilation done by drug cartels).
Mary (very busy actress /director Jessica Cameron; TRUTH OR DARE, Small Town Girl Productions,2013) is possessed by a demon and the Church sends in several exorcists to try and drive the Demon from the young woman.
The priests and their associates suffer several terrifying deaths (tearing out one’s own eyes, another pulls out his own tongue- this film doesn’t like tongues!) as the demon grows stronger with each attempt at driving it out.
However, we also begin to wonder is the Church trying to drive the Demon out, or bring about the return of the Anti-Christ?
There are a lot of interesting ideas in the film, but the performers, as I mentioned, for the most part, let the film down. A stronger cast would have made this a much more powerful film.
T.S.O.S. was produced in part due to a very successful Indiegogo campaign (over $52,000 raised, or 1497% of original goal), so there are a lot of fans who wish to see more of Biro’s work.
Those fans will be pleased at the 100 % all practical effects within the film, as well as appearances by people like Jim Van Bebber (THE MANSON FAMILY, Dark Sky,2005) as Father Blake getting a gory comeuppance.
The rituals of exorcism seem to try for a level of authenticity not seen in most films that deal with the subject, so kudos to the people going the extra mile.
The Blu Ray is superb transfer of the HD 4K cinematography by Chris Hilleke (ABC’s OF DEATH, Magnet Releasing 2012). The sharpness and color put many a larger budget film to shame. The Dolby 2.0 sound is good, with a nice mix of dialogue and music. Some of the sound effects needed a bit more punch to them, and some of the dialogue seems a bit echoey, due to shooting in real locales, but that is no fault of the transfer.
The music, by the way, includes some by Gene Palubicki from the group Angel Corpse, who portrayed Father Corbin in movie. The score works well with the picture, and one can see why they added a CD soundtrack to the limited special edition.
Extras on the disc include:
-A commentary track by director Biro and star Jessica Cameron. Their passion and pride for the final product comes through on the running commentary, as well as a mutual admiration for each other.
-A second commentary track has director Biro this time with effects whizzes Marcus Koch and Jerami Cruise.
-On camera Interview with actress Jessica Cameron
-Interview with writer/director Stephen Biro
-Interview with SPFX artist Marcus Koch
-Interview with DOP Chris Hilleke
-Interview with actor Gene Palluvicki
-Interview with actor David McMahon
-A behind the scenes documentary on how the practical effects were done. This goes from the planning stages, planning where the real person will bend and where the fake limbs for breaking bones will be added, the molding and life masks of the lead actress, on set touch ups, as well as the construction of the special bed used in the movie. One nearly gags watching the poor performers forcing fake intestines and things into their mouths to pull them out as the cameras roll. Who says show business is all glamor?
-An Outtake reel- scenes with clap boards and prepping of sequences as well as bloopers.
Overall, one of the more interesting variants on the exorcism horror genre, let down by the performances.
Still, for fans of grue, you will not be disappointed.
-Kevin G Shinnick
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