The 8th Plague Movie Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by Anthem DVD
Directed by Franklin Guerrero Jr.
Written by Eric Williford, Franklin Guerrero Jr. and J. Michael Whalen
2006, 90 minutes, Unrated
DJ Perry as Mason
Leslie Ann Valenza as Launa
Terry Jernigan as Buck
Charles Edwin Powell as Curtis
Nitin Adsul as Kadulva
Hollis Zemany as Crystal
Jonathan Rockett as Gavin
Laura Chaves as Nikki
Paul Bugelski as Stiver
Syn DeVil as Deanne
Bryant Sullivan as Possessed Man
Elizabeth Buchanan as Katy
A young woman, Launa (Leslie Ann Valenza), is investigating the disappearance of her sister, Nikki, last seen on a camping trip in Halcyon Springs. The local Sheriff is unconvinced that a “drunken college student”, who hasn’t been seen in three days, is truly “missing” and is reluctant to help.
Taking matters into her own hands, Launa enlists the help of the Sheriff’s deputy and an embittered former prison guard from Halcyon Ridge Correctional Institute, the last known location of Nikki.
But Halcyon Ridge holds a dark and powerful secret inside its crumbling walls. An ancient evil lies dormant and is waiting to be unleashed by unsuspecting trespassers.
Launa realises the dreadful truth about what happened to her sister and, with her companions, must battle the demonic forces that try to claim their souls in every corner of the prison.
When I first stumbled across the website for The 8th Plague, I was pretty impressed by the trailer. All too often the trailer is the most entertaining part of an indie movie’s life cycle, cobbling together all the best parts and masking the suspect acting, dodgy sets and cheap looking digital cinematography. In the case of The 8th Plague, the finished product delivers just what the trailer offers.
And then some.
First the downside; there’s not a huge amount of originality in the story. OK, maybe that’s a little unfair. The story is standard ‘group of people go off to find a missing person and bad things happen’ horror fodder. However, that’s not a problem when there’s a great movie wrapped around a solid, if straightforward, narrative.
Where The 8th Plague stands apart from most independent movies is, well, practically everywhere else. It was shot on digital video, but has been processed to a look that is very close to film and has a wonderfully grimy colour palette that matches the atmosphere of the deserted prison set perfectly. And how the filmmakers landed on their feet with the location. Using a real prison in Virginia as the set for Halcyon Ridge means that the entire production is elevated to an extremely masterly level.
The cast are incredibly strong in their roles; Leslie Ann Valenza, as Launa, is the tenacious female lead and depicts the determined woman trying to find her lost sister with aplomb. Not to be confused with the cookie-cutter horror movie woman who starts out weak and ends up the hero, this cat is tough from the outset and not to be messed with. It’s no wonder she ends up as the true survivor of her ordeal.
Facing off against Valenza is DJ Perry as Mason, the former Halcyon Ridge guard who knows the prison like the back of his hand. Both leads play very well off each other, and eventually their characters come to a grudging mutual respect. Even the peripheral characters in the movie are brought to life by competent actors, so you never find yourself thinking “(s)he must be related to the director to suck so bad and still get a part in the movie”.
The 8th Plague will satisfy horror fans with its lavish amounts of gore. When demonic forces possess your friends, you’ll use any weapon possible to defend yourself, and Mason and Launa do just that. The camera is unflinching in its portrayal of the carnage. I can only let you imagine what kind of horrors you’ll experience when the Legend of the Demons says “The Devil can’t take your soul if you have no eyes”.
I spend a lot of time reviewing indie movies and it’s always a pleasure when I discover a pinnacle of the genre like this one. The 8th Plague is a lesson in proficient filmmaking with a fantastic cast and enough gore to satiate the most jaded horror fanatic. It is easily my favourite indie movie of 2006.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Not rated, as this was a DVD screener only.
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