Sunday, May 19, 2013

Purgatorium - a few words on an independent thriller that delivers!

Director, Travis B. Miller's Purgatorium, is a throwback thriller, and  the kind of movie that stays with you long after the final credits fade to black.  Who knew that one of the more effective bits of cinematic supernatural story telling would come by way of a director and company of actors out of Oklahoma?

Shot on a shoe-string budget, featuring a cast of unknowns, Purgatorium defies the odds and delivers the sort of compelling, suspenseful and terrifying movie experience that most mainstream horror/suspense films (these days at least), rarely achieve.   Forgoing gore, explosions, hyper-kinetic camera work, and sophomoric storytelling, Miller delivers a slow paced, technically brilliant experience that not only brings hints of Hitchcock and  David Lynch, to the table, but also seems to be paying homage to the Technicolor palate of Douglas Sirk (yes, the film looks gorgeous with all of its over-saturated colors).   

But make no mistake,  first and foremost, Purgatorium is a suspense movie;  a group of strangers (circa sometime in the early 60's) find themselves in a house with apparently no way to get out.  Furthermore it seems that these five characters in search of an exit, can't seem to recall how they got into this situation , yet most of them can remember certain moments from their recent past.  The trick, is to unlock the mystery of where, and more importantly, why they are here, and that's when the fun begins with a complex maze of back stories, clues, and dark secrets that...well, yeah, I guess you'll have to see it to find out what happens.

While some of the dialogue is a bit heavy-handed, and some of the acting a little wooden at times, for the most part, the cast delivers. Of particular note is the leading actress who plays Abby (Libby Chancellor). Ms. Chancellor's haunting portrayal of a woman running away from something (but what?) , is spot on (for whatever  reason, she really put me in mind of the character Elisabeth Moss plays on Mad Men ; someone who appears vulnerable, but is actually filled with an inner strength that, when needed, can be called upon).

With it's Twilight Zone / retro vibe,  Purgatorium might seem conventional  to some, and that's understandable, yet, when mainstream suspense and horror films are all bombast with no heart, it's very refreshing to stumble upon something so familiar, yet so surprisingly original.

If you are interested in getting your hands on a copy of this one, or if you'd like to contribute to the Kickstarter Campaign that will assist in getting Purgatorium a wide release as well as a shot at Sundance follow THIS LINK.  Or you can always message Travis Miller on Facebook and he'll be happy to sell you a copy (that's how I got to see it).

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