haven's end | chris etheridge | michael h. harper | catherine taber | hannah fierman | megan hayes | thriller | united states | alex zuko | anthony nguyen | robert pralgo | derek russo | mike stanley | blake ivey | krista berutti | nff | nightmare film festival
Film: Haven’s End
Director: Chris Etheridge
Writer: Michael H. Harper
Starring: Catherine Taber, Hannah Fierman and Megan Hayes
I had the pleasure of catching the world premiere of this film while I was attending the Nightmares Film Festival. Sitting behind me actually were much of the cast, the director and other members behind the camera. The official synopsis are a trauma surgeon and her friends escape an urban terrorist attack by heading to the country, only to find something worse waiting for them.
This was an interesting film. We meet Alison (Catherine Taber) as she is on the phone and getting ready. We learn that she is currently on leave from her job as a doctor, because she did something she shouldn’t have. There seems to be some of kind of terrorist attack and she is trying to get them to let her come back. She is denied though. She currently lives with her fiancé, Derek (Anthony Nguyen). He is former soldier in the Army and there is something wrong with his knee.
The attacks get much worse and they look at the window to see buildings on fire. There is a report that the Center for Disease Control is hit. Their friend, Jessi (Megan Hayes) shows up. She is there, because her wife is worried and knows she will be safe with them. They decide to flee out of Atlanta until this is resolved. First they hit a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. It is manned by Harry (Robert Pralgo). He was a friend of Alison’s father and a former marine. He gives them supplies, but they are attacked by some locals. Jessi is hit by a bullet. The group continues on, needing to give her medical attention.
They come to the camper to find that Alison’s brother Kevin (Alex Zuko) and his girlfriend are there, Hannah (Hannah Fierman). Tensions start to run high as Kevin is a recovering drug addict and the pressure of the situation isn’t helping. There is something wrong with some people in the woods and Kevin encounters something. There is something about the lights. Odd things start to happen and people start to act much differently as they try to find a way to survive.
The premise for this film combines a few different elements and I thought that was good. It is quite interesting in that we have something relevant and scary like a possible terrorist attack. With all of the shootings, 9/11 not be too long ago and some of the other similar things, this is in the forefront. Horror is definitely a genre that takes what we fear and brings it to the screen. I will commend the film, as it does bring that feeling early on. Something to go along with this is that much like the black out that happened in 2004, the moment a crisis happens, cellphones no longer work. Since their inception, it is something that horror films have to deal with, but this one does well with that pretty early on. They also are out in the middle of nowhere and that explains it too.
What I also like that the film goes ambiguous as to what is causing everything. I don’t like when the story is force-fed to me. I like to piece it together myself by giving parts to the puzzle. Now I will say though, this film goes a little bit too much in that way. I’m not going to spoil this film, but I’ve already touched on that it might be terrorists, but we also get that it could be aliens though. There is also some scenes that there would be zombies as well, but that is more of a by-product what is happening.
This film though is much more to about the characters and trying to cope with what is going on. The acting for the film is actually really good, so that helps to bring the characters to life. Taber is solid as the lead here. I feel bad for her and can understand that she can help, but she is handcuffed due to her leave. It helps that those around her need her help, but I also like the confusion on who to believe. When you have a contained film like that, the stir crazy and fear of those around you is needed. Fierman is actually in this film very little. I’m a fan of hers and actually wanted more. She was fine for the time she got. Hayes was probably one of my favorite characters. She brought some good comedy and there is an interesting twist with her and Taber. Zuko I thought was solid in his performance. I also really liked Nguyen as well. The rest of the cast round out for the film as needed also.
I do have to say, I did have some issues with the pacing of the film. It kind of stalls in the middle of the film and it almost feels like they didn’t really know where to go with it. It almost makes me feel that the film just went a little too ambiguous and that could have been the reason. Revealing a bit more than what we got could have helped here while still not giving everything away.
Effects for the film weren’t great only because I’m not a fan of CGI, but it also didn’t need a lot of them. There was a cool scene early on where we see buildings in the distance on fire. It was clearly CGI, but I think at a distance, that works. There aren’t really a lot of them after that initial scene. I will say that we get a scene where a light moves around a room a few times, that was pretty well done actually. I thought the blood we get looked good, but not when we see someone getting shot. The film was shot very well and that was one of the better aspects also.
The score of the film was fine. It didn’t really stand out to me or hurt the film. I did like the aspect of a HAM radio being used. I didn’t even know what they were until my father told me while we were writing a novel. I have to thank him for knowing what that term means. This aspect brings some plot points by what is heard over the radio which was good.
Now with that said, I thought this was an interesting film. I like the set up to what causes them to leave and the fear that comes with it. It did go a little bit too ambiguous and that hurt it for me as I’m big on story. I like they didn’t force-feed or give us all of the information, but I think it was lacking a little bit there. The acting was really good and that is really the most important aspect of the film. The setting was good and the isolation that comes with it. The effects I thought were decent and the use of sounds over the radio was solid. I would say this film is above average and worth a viewing. I will say it is slower, so keep that in mind as well.
My Rating: 7 out of 10