Satans Playground Review
Written by: Goon
I have been following Dante Tomasellis Satans Playground since its inception and finally the chance to review the film has come my way. I have to say that I have heard some mixed opinions about his previous films so I was unsure of what kind of film I would be seeing. I knew I would be in for one crazy ride but I had no idea how emmense the film would be with such a modest budget.
The film begins when a young woman is kicked out of a truck in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Slowly she begins her walk into the darkness when she hears a noise in the woods. Suddenly she realizes something is out there and begins to make her way up the road. Then swooping down from the sky a creature takes her out and thats just the opening scene.
Now we are introduced to the Bruno family who are on a vacation through the wilderness. Soon the family begins hearing and seeing things in the woods that resemble that of a bat. Unfortunately for them their car gets stuck in the mud and they are forced to look for help. One by one they head into the woods looking for the previous family member who disappears without a trace. For them it is a adventure into madness as they discover a family of mad murderers who know more than they lead on.
Dante Tomaselli does a great job of casting memorable faces that aren't just cameos for the sake of having a "name" in the cast. Every single actor cast really shines in their particular role and really shines through in each performance. I've never seen Felissa Rose give such a great performance before. Not to mention some other great notables in Edwin Neal (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Ellen Sandweiss (Evil Dead) and the unforgettable Irma St. Paule (Thinner). St. Paule plays the creepy and foreboding character Mrs. Leeds. She adds something to the film that couldn't be done by any other actress in the buisness. Edwin Neal does a little channeling of his previous role of the Hitchhiker in Texas Chainsaw for his role. He does alot of rambling and torturing that he is rather good at on camera.
The only film I can really think to compare this to is Suspiria. Not for the story but the overall feel and creepyiness that bleeds throughtout the entire film. The story itself is very unique and is based on a legend of the Jersey Devil which is described in the film and in the special features of the DVD even better. I've never seen the story delivered in such a surreal, dream like way that works like it does here. Satans Playground is like a twisted fairy tale on acid. Unique and creepy in every way with just the right amount of gore.
Now this is in no stretch of the imagination a "gory" film but when it is needed you will see some nice effects. Most of the strength in this film lies within your own imagination and the entire film helps build that fear. The camera work forces you into places you wish you hadn't entered and still manages to keep you engaged with the mind trip you are on.
The musical score for the film borrows several elements from great musical scores of films past. Tomaselli and his rag tag group of collaborators on the soundtrack worked perfectly together to build a great level of tension and fear that would permeate throughout the entire film. The score for this film really raised it from a good film to a great film.
Now my only gripe with the film would have to be the ending. After a fantastic ride that Tomaselli has built up the ending leaves you high and dry with an almost Hollywood feeling of a "wink wink" at the posiblity of a sequel. I guess I was hoping for more closure on the story or maybe a definite ending instead of the open ending I received.
In all if you are a huge horror fan you will love this movie for its subtle flair of hinting at the films that made the genre great. Casual fans will love the twisted fairy tale with bite that gives the film its psychedellic feel. Overall anyone will find something in this film that they can take away and say now that was a kick ass movie.