Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – He Never Left

FrightFest review – He Never Left

The opening set-up suggests something along the lines of either version of The Town That Dreaded Sundown … a small community was once terrorised by a masked slasher known as ‘the Pale Face Killer’, who has gone quiet but possibly not gone away.  Then, in a spin on Rear Window and Psycho, what we get is the story that takes place in the next motel room over from the expected action.  It’s a bold choice, anchored by a full-throttle performance from Colin Cunninhgam as an amoral, whiny, rage-a-holic, self-justifying fugitive ex-con/hit-and-run murderer who has hooked into his ex Carly (Jessica Staples) and reformed associate Andrew (Jake Watters) to help him dodge the US Marshals (David E. McMahon, writer-director James Morris) out to bring him in.  Carly registers in a motel, which is run by smiley busybodies (William McAllister, Charla Bocchicchio), then smuggles Gabriel out of her car boot into the room … where all he has to do is lie low, not be seen and wait for a call from Andre.  However, there’s a suspicious racket in the next room – possibly involving a fatality.

Gabriel is clinging to the notion that none of his problems are his fault and he’s fundamentally a decent guy – of the sort who just can’t help robbing the ice cream truck where he’s been lucky to get a demeaning job and quite understandably runs over the teenage manager who tries to stop him – but still can’t bring himself to do anything to help, which disgusts Carly to breaking point.  The film is constructed more like a farce than a slasher, with Gabriel getting deeper and deeper in trouble (and fury) as circumstances pile up to involve him in the return of Pale Face … lies told have to be compounded, and lead to more complications, such as the desk clerk showing up with a replacement for a broken lamp just at the point the vital phone call comes in and just not picking up on obvious cues that he should leave the guest alone and go away.  Perhaps less effective are the cutaways to the chatty marshals going about their business, tracking down leads but not exactly giving the ice cream truck heist/murder top priority.  Eventually, of course, the Pale Face plot intrudes into Gabriel’s hideout room.  Interesting and odd.  Co-wrotten by Michael Ballif.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: