In this day and age we’re used to seeing a flurry of films that deal with young college kids who end up in the middle of nowhere being attacked by a random monster or person, but this isn’t the case with “Cassadaga.” Instead we’re taken by the hand and lead into a dark, twisted world that’s disturbing and thrilling to watch all at once.
In “Cassadaga” we follow an artistically talented but deaf young woman named Lily (Kelen Coleman) who tries to cope with the death of her younger sister (Sarah Sculco) by moving into the quiet psychic-populated town of Cassadaga. In the process she finds herself entangled with a nasty spirit who won’t let her rest, or be unharmed, until she finds out who’s the twisted serial killer responsible for the person’s death.
Although the story has strategically placed sections where the serial killer is in action taking apart and putting together his victims into mutilated human puppets, it plays out as a murder mystery more than anything else. The beginning feels like somebody scattered random pieces of a slightly complicated puzzle down on the floor, it doesn’t make any sense at first but once you take a look at what the end result’s supposed to be you can figure out how to piece it together fairly easily. It’s a bit predictable to figure out who’s behind all of the murders but it’s still nice to sit and enjoy the ride. Then again, the story could have been fine without the love interest red herring of sorts.
It’s interesting to see actors play somebody who’s physically handicapped just to see whether or not they come off some-what believable and also if the story slips on how their disability works throughout the film. It wanes a little bit on that aspect, but just call me nit-picky. The acting bobs into the par range but is never outstanding, which normally feels to be the case for a large amount of recent horror films.
It may appear easy to direct a horror film but in reality it’s not. It’s a director’s job to effectively scare the audience and put us in the middle of the gruesome story, whichever it may be. Since it’s director Anthony DiBlasi’s second feature, he’s pretty much has that scare-portion of his films on lockdown to the point where audience members are squirming in their seats, hoping that a victim can successfully escape the murderer. Now he succeeds pulling that sector off but the rest comes off as a horror-filled murder mystery with a slightly uneven pace due to the not-so-necessary love interest part of the story I mentioned earlier.
Whoever pulled off the look of the puppet girl during the middle of the film I say bravo. The fact that they were able to pull off that effect, and do wonderful paint jobs on a couple of other ladies, in the process makes this horror-watcher happy. The overall coloration, especially the scenes were we’re inside the hideous “dungeon,” isn’t something that’s on my favorites list, mainly because it’s something that’s been used in the “Saw” series and has been copied hundreds of times since the first movie has been released. The sound is top-notch, the cinematography is gorgeous to look at and, once again, those are some creepy visuals that I won’t be able to get out of my head for days to come.
Although there are some aspects to the pacing and acting that didn’t exactly tickle my fancy, “Cassadaga” is still a solid horror film that is fun to watch especially with a group of people. Don’t hesitate to watch it in theaters or rent it when you get the chance.