Emily is a high school student with a penchant for drawing gruesome pictures in her sketchbook. There a reason for her obsession with horrific images: Her father, Tom, once went on a murder spree and is now residing in a mental hospital. On a night she home alone babysitting her mute little brother, Tom escapes and targets Emily and her friends during a bloody killing rampage.
The film, SUSPENSION centers around a High School student named Emily. A quiet loner, Emily is often picked on at school by her peers, and also has teachers who don't quite understand her. Emily takes comfort however, in drawing, in fact, she's pretty talented. However, the things that she likes to draw, some wouldn't consider "normal", as Emily likes to draw things which are gruesome in nature. Perhaps it is due to her family's storied past. Because 10 years ago, her father Tom went on a brutal rampage, killing 8 people, including Emily's brother. In the present, as Emily's classmates all gather at a party, Emily stays at home, as her mother is called into work at the last minute. Because of this, Emily must stay at home to look after her mute brother, Jeremy. Unfortunately, this is the same night that Emily's father Tom Hanson, has been helped to escape the mental institution in which he was housed. As it's no surprise, Hanson doesn't take long to finish what he started, as he's back to killing again, in and around the same area, before of course targeting Emily's house. As panic sets in, it's as if the scenes depicted in Emily's drawings are coming to life, right before her eyes, as she hopes to find a way to escape for she and her brother.
Ok, so at this point, I am now 4 films into 2015's After Dark Horror Fest, and up until now, I have yet to be thoroughly impressed by any of the films that I have viewed thus far, Well, that was before I saw SUSPENSION, a film that was written by Kevin Mosley, and directed by Jeffrey Scott Lando.
On the surface, sure, some will be quick to call SUSPENSION a "HALLOWEEN clone"(in fact, some already have). But, while technically, that may be true, I feel that SUSPENSION is a film that brings enough of its own originality to the tried and true formula. One such element is the inclusion of the "Emily" character's gruesome drawings, and how they relate to the "real life" action on screen. For some scenes, the action occurs simultaneously, as Emily is seen drawing them. I really liked this idea, and felt that it was much in the creative vein as a film like CELLAR DWELLER, with the visual narrative, in which art goes to screen, like say THE NEVERENDING STORY(?). When mixed together with the trimmings of a classic Slasher film, it makes for a rather interesting and different take on the "masked killer on the loose" type of film. Not to mention that the mental aspect that is the film's twist ending, just furthermore adds depth to the film. Yes, although we have seen most of what makes SUSPENSION, many times over, in many different ways, what kept me interested was the anticipation, of where its ideas would take it next. Near the end, granted, that I did kind of predict where it would ultimately end up, it was still a lot of fun to watch unfold.
Out of the films in this year's fest that I have seen so far, SUSPENSION seems to have had the lowest budget, which is funny, because despite this, it seem to be the most inspired. It is just all the more proof that a film doesn't exactly need a big budget to be successful. All that a film needs is simply dedication, a good idea, and good execution. In my opinion, SUSPENSION has these things. Sure, in terms of acting, sometimes the performances are a bit shaky, obviously due to the overall experience of some of the film's cast, but overall, the acting is good. I especially enjoyed Ellen MacNevin, who portrays the film's lead "Emily". We first meet Emily as she is both misunderstood and tormented by her peers. MacNevin's initially low key performance is welcoming to the viewer. We feel for her instantly, which makes it easy to go along for the ride, and by the time the suspense rises, we are invested in her. The other performances range from average to good, in a film that pretty much hinges upon MacNevin's performance, which honestly, as it turns out, is all the film needs on the particular front.
Yes, in terms of the Slasher film, SUSPENSION is familiar, yet, so are the hundreds of other like-minded films. But beyond its familiarity, there are some nice ideas that are found within. Like I said, I really enjoyed the idea of having Emily draw what was actually happening in her sketchbook. It's a nice idea, and I just wish that there had been more of the idea used throughout. That is my only major complaint for SUSPENSION, I felt that the sketchbook plot device was a little underused. In the film, Emily would draw out something, it would happen, and then it would be some time before we'd see her draw again. It would have been a nice had the idea had it been something the film relied on, but instead it seems to be an idea not fully realized in the end. But other than that it is a pretty fun indie Slasher with a mental twist.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As a fan of Slasher films, SUSPENSION is a film that I initially took to for its familiarity. But as it went along, I begin to further enjoy its own elements, which it brought forth, It has elements of creativity that work together to keep the film rather interesting. While I am not yet sure if SUSPENSION will be the best of this year's After Dark Horror Fest, it is, as of now, the most enjoyable film that I have seen so far.