Budget beating effects with predictable plot.
Normally, when epic fantasy adventures are made, they are huge expensive
affairs with sweeping scores, an arsenal of props and some super special
effects. If Fading of the Cries proves anything, however, it is that a good
fantasy concept doesn’t necessarily need a big budget. With visual effects whiz
Brian A Metcalf at the helm of this, his first feature film, it shows that a
lot of computer graphics wizardry can be achieved on a miniscule budget.
Unfortunately, the film also proves that a good concept in itself does not
guarantee a good film.
The movie starts with Sarah (Hirsh), a teenage girl who is suddenly
attacked by the inhabitants of her home town, all of whom have been turned into
zombie-like demons. Out of nowhere, a young man named Jacob (Matthews) appears
to fend off the gruesome beings and protect Sarah, all while showing off some
pretty nifty sword skills.
Events unfold to reveal that a curse has been placed on the town by a
malevolent sorcerer named Mathias (Dourif) who is reacting to Sarah’s uncle
Michael (Nicholas) meddling in dark magic many years before – a story that is
told in parallel to Sarah’s via several flashbacks. As Jacob and Sarah try to
undo the curse, they both reveal important secrets to each other and Jacob, in
particular, must confront his own mysterious past in order to defeat Mathias.
The low-budget is evident from the opening scene, with the look and feel
of the movie resembling that of a home video. Of course, sometimes this is just
par for the course with straight-to-DVD releases. The events that play
throughout the film look more and more impressive as it heads towards its epic
climactic third act, thus setting it apart from the cheap horrors and
blockbuster rip-offs that it is destined to sit alongside upon release.
While Metcalf creates a wonderful digitally-created night sky, employs
green screen back drops and manages to turn a few bit-actors into hundreds of
extras, his talents as a story-teller are less keen. The spells and sorcery
plot, made all the more interesting by being set in mid-suburbia, are enough to
just about keep momentum going. But, there is never any doubt as to where the
story is heading and, despite one genuinely original plot twist, the whole film
unravels rather predictably.
It is a shame too that, for all Metcalf’s work on creating impressive
effects, their interaction with the cast does little to make them seem
believable. In particular, Jacob’s sword-fighting skills seem redundant when,
for all his tricks and spins, it is obvious that he never really makes contact
Even with a couple of incredible-for-the-budget CGI effects and truly
scary demon make-up designs, the film ultimately just looks pretty while it bores
its audience. Extra credit goes to Dourif for playing a camp but sinister foe
worthy of the epic storyline, but even his cult credentials are not enough to
save this film from languishing in bargain bins for the majority of its
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