Director: Joe Ciminera
Starring: Joe Ciminera, Natalie Swan and Danielle Ventura
People are often quick to criticize others for the sins they have committed in their lives, and often place judgment on them if they’re unable or unwilling to redeem themselves. But once people are faced with correcting the mistakes they have made, they come to realize how difficult it truly is to change. This all-important message is a main theme of the new horror-thriller ‘Purification,’ which was written and directed by Joe Ciminera. The filmmaker also appeared in the film as the critical main character Bret Fizpatrick, who is faced overcoming his own struggles, after a lifetime of condemning others.
‘Purification’ follows Bret, a New York real estate investor, as he becomes caught between reality and the supernatural. While he initially values business and making money over the well-being of his family, friends and tenants, Bret soon has a change of heart after he crosses paths with people who can’t emotionally mature. Those around Joe can’t move on with their lives, as a punishment for the terrible acts they have committed. As a result, Bret comes to realize that he must change his outlook on life and his actions in order to redeem himself and his soul.
Ciminera realistically portrayed the feelings of self-importance Bret experiences in the beginning of ‘Purification,’ as he has advanced in his career, accumulated wealth and successfully moved past his difficult childhood. But as Bret journeys into the world between life and death, he sees the pain and suffering others have come to endure, and realizes that not everyone can successfully improve their fate. He slowly begins to understand the conflicts people face are the main contributing factor that motivates them to take risks and put their futures in danger.
Ciminera also memorably showcased the deterioration of Bret’s mental and emotional states throughout the course of ‘Purification,’ as his own past comes back to haunt him. He wants to help his brother become sober and help save their family home from going into foreclosure, but is torn over his conflicting belief that people only have themselves to blame for their difficulties. The debate over whether Bret should help his brother or himself is a true reflection of who Bret is as a person, and whether his new so-called outlook on life should help save and protect his soul.
‘Purification’ was a risky venture for an independent film shooting on location, as Ciminera didn’t give the actors a script before shooting; instead the writer-director helped keep the scenes believable and natural by providing the actors with the dialogue the morning of every shoot. As a result, the actors didn’t have time to over analyze how their characters would react to the difficult situations they’re placed in, such as financial insecurity, addiction, assault and even death. The short preparation process captured how people would truly act, the impulses they would take and the emotions they would feel.
Though primarily known as a television personality, celebrity chef and book author, Ciminera found ease in directing a genre he has said he enjoys watching. As a relatively new filmmaker, he wasn’t afraid to allow his actors to experiment with their characters and portray them as they felt they would realistically act. The horror-thriller also perfectly exuded the multiple difficulties people can face throughout their lives. The events in the film also pushed Bret to the limit, as he tried to determine how to best confront them and cope with his looming mortality.
Written by: Karen Benardello