Director: Jeffrey Scott Lando
Stars: Ellen MacNevin, Taylor Russell, Steve Richmond, Rustin Gresiuk, Courtney Paige Theroux, Johannah Newmarch, Connor Fielding, Owen Fielding, Duncan Ollerenshaw, Sage Brocklebank, Barry Nerling
UK release TBC
Emily (Ellen MacNevin) has a tragic past — her father (Barry Nerling) is a violent psychopath whose killing spree saw him behind bars. Psychologically damaged by this, Emily is also the victim of relentless bullying from catty classmate Theresa (Courtney Paige Theroux) who is envious of Emily’s friendship with her boyfriend Jason (Steve Richmond).
After a particularly harrowing ordeal at the bullies’ hands, Emily is left humiliated. When cool kid Frank (Rustin Gresiuk) throws a party, Emily ignores the overtures of her friend Carrie (Taylor Russell), instead staying at home to babysit her mute younger brother Jeremy (the Fielding siblings). Here we are given an insight into her damaged mind as she tells terrifying, violent stories and draws graphic, gory pictures featuring a hulking serial killer.
However, it soon becomes apparent that these grisly images may not be fantasy with the revelation that her murderous father has escaped from the confines of his cell and is now cutting a bloody swathe towards his old home.
Suspension is a slasher film that exudes quality and imagination, a difficult balancing act for many indies. Director Jeffrey Scott Lando has real flare behind the camera, as evidenced in the polished work he has created for the SyFy Channel, such as House of Bones and Goblin. Suspension is a visually arresting film — from the bright crimson farmhouse motif to Emily’s ghoulish artwork, the eye is always stimulated. Lando and his cinematographer Shawn Seifert make for a strong team that produces impressive results.
Furthermore, the character design feels straight out of the pages of a horror comic such as Tim Seeley’s awesome Hack/Slash, adding a fresh feel to the picture.
These aesthetics tie into the dream-like teen-fantasy theme at the heart of the film. I’m not going to spoil the twists and turns of Kevin Mosley’s story, but rest assured there is as much intelligence and imagination there as in the visuals.
The central story alone, with its weighty theme of survivor’s guilt and mind-bending twist, is impressive but this wit is also evident in the characterisation. The script gives us hyper-real stereotypical character archetypes, then twists this just enough to give us realistic characters about whom we care. This is down to some fine writing, but it is undoubtedly bolstered by a superb cast.
Ellen MacNevin really is the star of the film. Sympathetic and likeable, yet odd and unnerving, she channels the fragile and fractured work of Sissy Spacek in Brian Depalma’s Carrie. MacNevin is given a lot to do and with a less talented lead Suspension could have collapsed, instead she is one of the best things in the film.
Another stand-out was the magnificently malicious Courtney Paige Theroux as Theresa. Hers is a hateful performance with just enough self-aware humour as to keep her entertaining. Elsewhere Sage Brocklebank’s bumbling Deputy Jacobs provides some great comic relief, while the imposing Barry Nerling is as intimidating a slasher villain as you’re likely to see.
Slasher films are often judged solely by the gore on display — well in this flick the kills are wonderfully bloody, and there’s plenty of them. With all manner of sadistic splatter on display and plenty of suspenseful cat-and-mouse stalking scenes to heighten the tension, this is a slasher movie done properly. However, the film is not without its flaws. Seasoned film fans will spot the ‘not-as-clever-as-it-thinks-it-is’ twist coming from a mile away. Of course, telling a story is as much about the journey as the destination, so if you see a twist ending as the cherry on the cake, there’s no harm done. However, if you’re the sort of viewer who only cares about that big reveal, this could become an issue.
Despite this shortcoming, Suspension is one of those indie gems that crop up when you least expect them and utterly restore your faith in the genre. Lando’s smart, fun and bloody imaginative slasher is cool and clever with a kickass cast and plenty of blood and gore. It’s very highly recommended.