Cassadaga (2011) Review

Mad Mike

Making it’s screening premiere at the 2011 Screamfest, I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this, and now it’s been released here in the UK, I got my chance.

The movie starts of with an obscure scene, set in the past, involving a young boy, girl’s clothing, a doll and a pair of scissors. Cut to present day, a teacher named Lily, who is deaf, is teaching her young students about painting. She interrupted by her younger sister, as she is accidentally hit by a vehicle outside of the school.

Seeking solace, Lily heads to the small town of Cassadaga (by all accounts it’s a pretty creepy place in real life!), where she finds a local spiritualist and psychic that will help her connect with her dead sibling. Unfortunately, along with making contact with Lily’s sister, something else comes through in the process.

Shortly after the experience with the psychic, the thing that came through now starts to manifest itself. Plagued with nightmares and now seeing the ghost of a murdered woman, Lily’s life starts falling to pieces around her. In an attempt to find the meaning of what she’s going through, Lily starts to look closer to home and delve into the history of Cassadaga’s murders and missing persons, where upon she uncovers the work of a sick and twisted serial killer, known only as Gepetto.

Now knowing why and what the vengeful spirit wants, Lily is in a race against time and a fight for her own life. Will she find what she’s looking for before it’s too late or fall prey to the same fate of the woman who’s spirit she is trying to set free?

While the story is neither perfect nor original, by any stretch of the imagination, it’s presented brilliantly with good direction and a good script that’s well delivered by all the cast. In particular, Kelen Coleman, who carries the weight of the film all the way through and does it with ease. The standout performance from the supporting cast comes from Kevin Alejandro (Trueblood), who plays his role with depth.

It has a fresh feel to it, in a sub-genre that has become dreary and polluted with tiresome predictability. The film’s pace is steady, keeping you wanting more but not in a “I can’t wait to see what happens” way. That’s not a negative thing, everything is delivered at the right time in the right way. The same applies to the SFX. They are done with effective simplicity. And where other films (that could be compared) rely on cheap scares, this movie simply doesn’t do that. It uses the good old fashioned trill of suspense.

I would go as far to say that the Americans are starting to take a leaf out of the Spanish horror book, with such film’s like the Guillermo del Toro produced The Orphanage (2007) and Julia’s Eyes (2010).

While not everyone can be pleased, the majority of horror fans should like this one! Oh, and I nearly forgot to say, keep watching through the credits for one last scare.

The Cast

Kelen Coleman as Lily
Kevin Alejandro as Mike
Louise Fletcher as Claire
Christina Bach as Gabriella
Rus Blackwell as Christian Burton
Carlos Navarro as Todd
Lucius Baston as Officer Bill Hall
Amy LoCicero as Jennifer
Hank Stone as Maxwell
Beth Marshall as Amity / Corrie
Sarah Sculco as Michelle

Director – Anthony DiBlasi

Writers – Bruce Wood and Scott Poiley

4 / 5 stars     


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