DIRECTOR: Robert Hamilton
Marco V. Scola
Chad Eric Smith
Henry Dawles is a property appraiser who is sent to a rural farmhouse to appraise the home. Once Henry begins to evaluate the farmhouse and meets the strange caretaker and maid who live on the property, a lot of weird things start happening. Henry starts to lose his grip on reality when he begins seeing the demons that are inhabiting this farmhouse. It's now up to Henry to fight for survival as he uncovers the dark secrets of the farmhouse.
When I reviewed The Suffering roughly a year ago. I was pretty hard on the movie's promotional campaign as the first two paragraphs in the original review were myself, giving it a good hiding. I accused the movie of having a pretty terrible piece of poster art. While I wasn't a fan of the movie, I still thought the story was quite original and warranted a much better campaign. The original poster than accompanied my review had a cheap looking skull overlayed over the main characters face and a dark forest setting. It looked like a horrible photoshop job that anyone could rush out.
Updating the review now, I have come across this new bit of poster art that you see in my review and have to hand it to the marketing team as this second one is much more appealing. This also feels much more in line with the story. A movie that deals with a man atoning for his sins is seen burning alive as demonic hands reach out to him. The use of orange in the title of the movie and the fire, the blue background just grabs you straight away. Look what a year does for a movie's promotional campaign. Hopefully, more people jump on this movie now.
We'll start with the positive aspects of the story. The Suffering has a rather neat twist towards the end of the movie. It's not original by any stretch of the imagination and elements of the story have been used before in other, much better movies but I liked the use of components that represent purgatory, atoning for your sins and the whole demon aspect of the plot. As a whole, I don't think it always came together entirely as a concise and complete narrative, but I still found something that I enjoyed about the twist. It felt smarter than what I had expected from this movie.
The acting is solid in this film. The leading performance from Nick Apostolides is the standout for me. I really enjoyed his performance. From the very first frames of the movie, he delivers a performance that is filled with sorrow and regret. I believed his character was suffering and filled with pain. It's explained early on as to why he has been suffering, and this becomes entirely apparent towards the end, and I think Nick Apostolides delivers on that. I hope to see him do more in the future.
Now onto The Suffering's negatives. This film is the definition of a slow-burn horror film. It just so happens to be one of the film's biggest downfalls as well. The movie clocks in at one hour and forty-five minutes. While this isn't considered a very long-running time when compared to other horror movies, it feels like the story which is being told in The Suffering drags on a little too long. A few more scares or moments of suspense may have helped this movie feel like it didn't drag so often. I think the story being so dark and somber and asking the audience to go along for that long felt at times like a chore.
I think this movie could have done with a couple of trims to the story to keep the film flowing a little better. During the first and second act, the movie does drag quite a bit. The story has a few moments where it does try to build the tension and suspense, but it isn't always successful. While the movie isn't terrifying, I'm sure the scene with the bird in the farmhouse will have a few people on the edge of your seat and as equally grossed out. Sometimes, you need more tension and suspense to move things along.
The Suffering regarding gore and bloodshed is lacking. We do have a few scenes that involve blood, but the movie is pretty light on the red stuff. I think this movie is going for more of a slow burn tension over gore which is pretty understandable when you're dealing with the mental breakdown of your central character. So while I would've liked to have seen the film ramp up the violence a touch more, I can understand that this is a movie where suspense is critical.
Lastly, when it comes to the cinematography in The Suffering. I think director Robert Hamilton does an excellent job. This is a low budget film that is pretty much only set in a large farmhouse, and it's surrounding forest, yet Robert Hamilton still manages to make this look like a pretty impressive little production. There isn't that much flair or overly complicated camera work or cinematography, but the movie always seems well made for what I assume is a minimal budget.
DEATH TOLL: 4
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A rotting corpse is seen hanging from a noose.
- A dead animal corpse is shown on the ground.
- A bird is seen being ripped open.
- A woman cuts open a guys stomach wound.
- An infected wound is shown.
- A guy is dragged away by a demon.
- A decaying baby is revealed.
- An infected gunshot wound.
- A gunshot blast to the head.
The Suffering is a movie that has a somewhat unusual little twist in the third act, a solid leading performance from Nick Apostolides and some decent production values for a smaller indie film. The film sadly lacks tension, suspense and is extremely slow. The movie at times drags, and it's the films biggest downfall. I will say though that compared to a lot of straight to video movies, it's a lot better than some of the stuff that I've seen recently. The Suffering at least deserves a once off watch for trying its hand at some form of originality.