Wow. This movie was different. And I can completely appreciate that. In a time when most movies read like copy and paste jobs, I’m thankful for film-makers like Gabriel Carrer who aren’t afraid to take risks. Death on Scenic Drive is a dark, supernatural, atmospheric horror film that’s also an interesting and coherent mix of story-telling elements. Its story is simple, but what Gabriel does with that story truly brings out a disturbing vision from a promising mind in horror. Death on Scenic Drive follows a young, unsuspecting woman named Larissa who takes a house-sitting job in the isolated, snow-covered countryside. What could possibly go wrong? The job starts out as usual until Larissa discovers terrifying drawings of occult symbols. This starts a chain of events that unleashes an evil entity that haunts the property, and now it wants to use Larissa as a conduit for its sinister desires. Lose your mind in this new releasing from Terror Films, currently available on most VOD platforms.
Death on Scenic Drive starts out mellow, with a beautiful snow-covered home and a playful dog that deserves lots of treats. Larissa settles into the home quite comfortably before the strange events kick off, and that’s when the film produced by Gabriel Carrer, Stephanie Ash and Scott McIntyre takes a delightfully weird turn. When the bizarre happenings begin and the entity starts to gain power, the entire mood of the movie changes with a sequence that I equated to Blade Runner if you take away all the futuristic elements. It feels very 80’s, and it feels very experimental. There’s another scene later in the movie, with red lighting and filters, that also struck me as experimental. Cinematographer Scott McIntyre and the entire creative team behind the camera deserve a lot of credit here for taking a chance on doing something different, something stylish and something daring while maintaining a high level of professionalism and quality. The risks that were taken from a production standpoint weren’t a way of saying, “let’s throw caution to the wind and see what happens.” They were realistic means to bringing nightmares to life.
And, again, let me mention how great this movie looked. There’s another scene where Larissa is digging in the mud near a river and it’s just an amazing shot. The camera work really propels this movie to a higher tier in independent cinema world. The writing was unique, and it actually didn’t contain a lot of dialogue, which makes sense because Larissa is mostly by herself and experiencing the horror of the house solo. Still, the one thing I liked about this script is that it set up a ton of horror movie cliches… and then never went for them! Bait, line and… surprise! I loved this aspect of the movie because it will keep the viewer on their toes. This suspense helped to keep Death on Scenic Drive as a surprising horror-drama that sees a young woman in the presence of true evil while psychologically unraveling. Lead and supporting cast members include Stephanie Ash, Ry Barrett, Jessica Vano, Keena, Jeff Ash, Amanda Lamarre, Brianna Lamarre and Faith Singleton. As much as Stephanie Ash did a fantastic job at leading this feature, I have to mention that Ry Barrett continues his streak as a successful chameleon. This dude can play any role at any time and not seem like a repeat or throwaway character.
Gabriel Carrer served as writer, director, producer and editor. Death on Scenic Drive is his sixth feature film and his fifth within the horror genre. Honestly, I hope he continues with scary movies going forward because this guy’s got talent in all areas: writing, casting, and bringing a vision to screen. He fluidly blends genres like horror, scifi, underground thriller, experimental and psychedelic narratives, and that’s all at play in Death on Scenic Drive. With a little bit of gore, a ton of mystery, palpable suspense, the perfect location, a central plot that hasn’t been beaten to death yet, and a super cute dog (I love animals…), this one was a surprise hit. It’s not the scariest of movies, but it all just works. As we go into the colder, wintry months, I encourage you to check out this movie because it fits into its own time slot so nicely. It’s well-shot and executed to perfection, and I really can’t say enough about it without going into spoiler territory. So, I’ll just end it here. Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.