Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Mikhail Blokh, Cindy Merrill, Lise Hart, Ronny Coleman, Shaun Gerardo, Dawna Lee Heising, Josh Patterson, and Gregory Blair
Directed by: Gregory Blair
Written by: Gregory Blair
Running time: 95 minutes
Rated: Unrated (for adult language, mild violence)
Reviewed by Michael Juvinall
Any writer will tell you, those times when you are eager to put words to paper and can’t because there is nothing there is a frustrating process. Being blocked is the nemesis of any person who writes, and it happens to all of us at one time or another. As Bill Oberst Jr.’s character Grafton Torn states in the film Deadly Revisions, “A blank page is my nemesis”, and he is blocked in several different ways with deadly consequences. Deadly Revisions is the debut film for writer/director Gregory Blair, and for a first time director, he turned in a pretty good first film.
Successful horror writer Grafton Torn (Bill Oberst Jr.) just woke from a coma in the hospital and has no memory of how he got there or what happened to him. Looking for answers, he decides to stay at his best friend Deter’s (Mikhail Blokh) secluded cabin in the woods for a while in order to clear the cobwebs and try to get his memory back. With no luck on his own, he begins to see a hypnotherapist, Dr. Ally Morris (Cindy Merrill) who tries to help him put the missing pieces of his memory back together. Things begin to take a turn for the worse when Grafton begins having waking nightmares with horrific characters from his novels. Not knowing what is real and what isn’t, Grafton begins to spiral out of control into the depths of madness, and he must find out the truth and get his memory back before it’s too late.
Deadly Revisions is not a straight, in-your-face horror film; it’s a thinking man’s psychological horror film. Psychological horror in films such as Jacob’s Ladder, The Haunting, or Repulsion is some of the best examples of the sub-genre and is very hard to pull off correctly. First timer Gregory Blair does an admirable job at keeping the viewer guessing with some good twists and turns along the way. The film is aided immensely by the casting of Bill Oberst Jr. who truly brings Grafton Torn to life as a man struggling to regain his lost memory and keep from going off the deep end. The remaining cast also does a good job in their roles and in most cases keep up with Oberst Jr. well.
The film takes a while to get going, but once it does, Blair’s script does a great job of keeping you guessing with some red herrings to throw you off. The final act really kicks it into high gear and might surprise you with the outcome, leaving you to think about what just happened for the last 95 minutes. On a side note, the secluded cabin’s exteriors were shot at the same Los Angeles location where Friday the 13th, Part 4 was shot at. So if you’re wondering why that cabin looks familiar, now you know why.
If you are looking for a gore fest, you won’t find it here, the film is rather light on the bloodletting, but that’s okay because this is a character driven piece and doesn’t need copious amounts of blood to get the point across. The only real problem I found was that throughout most of the film it was too dark and I had trouble seeing what was going on, especially during the night scenes, but it didn’t detract too much from the enjoyment of the film.
Overall, I was surprised at the first time effort of writer/director Gregory Blair. He definitely has a flair for direction and his script was better than many who try to tackle film writing. Keeping the viewer guessing is not an easy trick; even the greatest Hollywood writers have problems doing that, so kudos to Blair for getting it right. Bill Oberst Jr. gives another outstanding performance that really runs the gamut from a normal, sane person to an obsessed, crazed individual, teetering on the brink of madness. Deadly Revisions is a well-made, tension filled thrill ride worthy of seeking out.
3 ½ out of 5 Pentagrams!
Watch the trailer for Deadly Revisions here,