Grafton (Bill Oberst Jr) is a successful screenwriter whose horror hits include movies such as "Demon Doll", "The Noose" and "The Mind Trap".
However, an incident in his home one night results in him spending six months in hospital, in a coma. When he awakens, Grafton is suffering from amnesia and a leg injury which requires him to walk with the aid of a cane.
In a bid to help his healing, friend Dieter (Mikhail Blokh) picks him up from the hospital and offers the remote woods-based cabin that he inherited from his father as a place where Grafton can convalesce. The idea is Grafton will throw himself back into his writing there, as a form of gentle therapy which may help him remember how he arrived at this point.
Sexy blonde therapist Ally (Cindy Merrill) is enlisted by Dieter to visit the cabin regularly and hypnotise Grafton in a bid to jog his memory along. We learn via early flashbacks that Grafton was married in the recent past to Kat (Lise Hart), who was also the producer of the films his scripts were developed from. But their relationship had dissolved acrimoniously, and on the night Grafton was hospitalised, something ... something had happened. Quite what it was, he's struggling to recall.
As the visits from Ally continue to tease out more titbits from the past for Grafton - and us - to piece together, and as Dieter pops in on occasion to check on the welfare of his buddy, Grafton suffers not only from writer's block but increasingly disturbing nightmares. Could the visions he suffers of a screaming Kat and a male body lying face-down at the foot of his home's stairs be clues to the past, or evidence of his insanity? Especially when the visions begin to incorporate threats from live versions of monstrous characters from Grafton's screenplays.
Grafton's fears are heightened when Dieter reveals that he had "started talking some crazy shit" in the days leading up to his accident. He had apparently begun to accuse Kat of moving objects in their home to fuck with his mind, and so on. Grafton is fearful because his own father went insane ... Is he about to go the same way? Did he murder Kat as a result?
Written and directed by Gregory Blair, DEADLY REVISIONS is a low budget shot-on-HD affair which is commendable in both its ambition and its refreshingly serious mystery tone.
The screenplay is a strongpoint, Blair placing emphasis on hooking the viewer in with an intriguing premise which creatively leaks pieces of the puzzle throughout via flashbacks and nightmares. As much a thriller as it is a horror film (in fact, there is very little bloodletting - it doesn't require it), DEADLY REVISIONS enjoys keeping its audience guessing - and does this well.
Of course, a lot of its success is also down to Oberst Jr. Surely the busiest actor working in the genre today (in 2013 alone, he starred in 10 other films alongside this one, as well as making appearances in two TV shows and a couple of shorts), the joy of watching Oberst Jr is in how he always gives his all to whatever character he's playing. Typically, he's convincing and engaging here too, merging an undeniable presence - akin at times to a young Harvey Keitel - with a persuasive sincerity that immediately positions the viewer on his side.
Hart and Blokh are good too, though Merrill stumbles a little through her lines: her time on screen accounts for the only passages of the film that are less than convincing.
Thankfully, the denouement wasn't predictable (I thought I had things sussed from an early juncture; I was wrong). Kate Sobol's cinematography, while avoiding flashiness, is attractive enough to rise above what appears to have been a low budget shoot. Meanwhile, Andrew Poole Todd's classy traditional score is reminiscent of, say, John Ottman (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, ORPHAN etc).
In fact, I enjoyed DEADLY REVISIONS a lot. And, should Mr Blair ever be reading this, little additions like "No animals, people or demon dolls were harmed in the making of this film" and the fact that the director dedicates the movie to his late father don't pass by unappreciated either.
DEADLY REVISIONS looks good on MVD Visual's region-free DVD. It's presented uncut and in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The colourful, warm and noise-free transfer has been enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Blacks and contrast are strong, while images remain crisp and sharp throughout. A couple of scenes are overly dark, but this is due to how they were shot during the clearly low-budget shoot.
English 2.0 audio is solid throughout.
The disc opens to an attractive animated main menu page. There is no scene selection menu, but we do get a handful of bonus features.
First up are 6 minutes of enjoyable bloopers. Ranging from actors laughing inappropriately to microphones suddenly lunging accidentally into view, these are throwaway but fun moments.
Two trailers - a 58-second one and a 94-second one - follow.
DEADLY REVISIONS is a good old-fashioned horror-thriller which relies on intrigue, stylish scares and convincing character development within its engagingly non-linear framework. Bill Oberst Jr shines once again in another riveting lead role, ensuring Gregory Blair's feature debut is a film definitely worth seeking out.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by MVD Visual|
|see main review|