Independent Horror Round-Up: Peripheral Vision (2008) & Promise (2008)

As you can tell I’ve been on a huge indie horror tear lately.  Between the films I saw at the Texas Frightmare Weekend (Sweatshop and Blood Night; click for my reviews) I’ve also been getting a lot in the mail.  Peripheral Vision and Promise are two of the most recent that I’ve watched.  Let’s begin with Peripheral Vision.

Peripheral Vision (2008):

Written and directed by Michael D. D’Andrea, Vision is a story that revolves around Chet (Richard Buonagurio), Ron (Brian Cade), and Cindy (Lili Mirojnick); three damaged people all with troubled pasts.  As we watch these three characters come together we see how the past can intrude on and affect the present.  Chet is obsessed with the local abandoned psych hospital and is constantly visiting it.  His mother died there and he’s having difficulty coming to terms with that.  He’s also a talented artist which, in that small town, is an overlooked gift.  He wasted his time in the local warehouse where everyone keeps asking him why he doesn’t go for “the promotion,” and why he is wasting his life.

Chet runs into his boyhood buddy Ron in a bar one night.  They start talking and even Ron starts to question why the hell Chet still lives in the town.  Ron even mentions that he’s been in town for a while and never bothered to look him up because he just assumed he had moved out long ago.  The guys start up their friendship again but Ron isn’t the same guy Chet use to know.  It seems Ron has some anger issues and we slowly see his character building to something that you know isn’t going to end well.

The third character, Cindy, is the most damaged of them all.  Cindy is a victim of constant physical abuse who has retreated into drug abuse to ease her pain and help her escape.  From her first scene we know Cindy is on the path to self-destruction and ultimately death.  Chet reaches out to her and slowly starts to gain her trust and friendship.

This is a well made movie that has strong characterizations and dialogue.  Sometimes the acting feels as though you’re watching a student film (mainly by the supporting cast), but overall there’s some solid performances by the three main characters.  The pace for the most part is pretty good although it does seem to drag a little in the middle.  My biggest critique of this film is that it’s not really a horror movie; at best it’s a dramatic thriller.  That’s not really a bad thing, but if you’re looking for a horror film to cozy up too with a few drinks you’ll be disappointed.  But if you’re looking for a fairly strong character-driven movie then you’ll enjoy this one.  Director D’Andrea confidently tells a compelling story about three lonely and damaged people trying to come together.  Not recommended for horror fans, but for all you lovers of dramas, check it out.

Promise (2008):

Everything about the plot of Promise (written and directed by David Michael Quiroz Jr.) screams out “been there, seen that!!”  Jesse (Kurt Kubicek) and his girlfriend Selene (Noelle Wheeler) are driving in the countryside when they are ambushed by members of a freako-survivalist-religious cult group (I think that covers it) who kidnaps Selene and leaves Jesse for dead.  But through some convenient acts of luck Jesse overpowers the cultists and gains the upper hand and sets out to rescue Selene.  Like I said it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but Quiroz somehow makes it feel original and fun.  Jesse gets so many lucky breaks as he slowly makes his way to the religious nutbag’s camp that it becomes kinda laughable:  A sniper misses him, another slips in the mud when they’re fighting … things like that.  And Jesse seems pretty adept at becoming an ass kicker and pretty proficient with a gun.

The leads do pretty good jobs.  Jesse is definitely the stronger of the two as Wheeler overacts and chews up the scenery at times.  But Quiroz keeps everything moving at a nice pace and never lets the story get bogged down in romantic sentimentality as Jesse flashes back to how he and Selene met.  Through these flash backs we learn that Jesse promised to never abandon her no matter what.  This is what Selene clings onto as she is held captive.  The flashbacks are well placed in the film and never screwed up the pace or momentum of the action; nice job by editor Nathan Price.

Quiroz also makes good use of his modest budget by getting the most out of his limited sets.  The f/x are pretty good and are at times juicy, but the hand to hand fight scenes look a little awkward.  In the end it’s the relationship between Jesse and Selene that make this one stand out in this saturated sub-genre.  Even with all the positives here, at the end of the day this is unfortunately a pretty forgettable movie that lacks any kind of punch.

My Summary:

Peripheral Vision

Director:  Michael D. D’Andrea (& writer)

Plot:  3 out of 5 stars

Gore:  0 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains


Director:  David Michael Quiroz Jr. (& writer)

Plot:  2.5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  4 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

4 Responses to “Independent Horror Round-Up: Peripheral Vision (2008) & Promise (2008)”
  1. autumnforest says:

    I’m thrilled you’re a fan of Indie movies. I’ve had to go Indie with music because when you get the stupid record companies and MTV involved, it becomes shit. I’m for up and coming talent! I wlil watch “Promise.” I really like the premise and I have thing for movies about survivalist types. Thanks–you always know what I haven’t seen!


  2. l3pr3chaun says:

    Ok you also hooked me on “Promise”. It sounds like that is a really solid effort and something I would enjoy. Damn, some of these indie folks need to breakthrough because their content is the only thing left that is original, fresh or new.


    • Exactly Bill!! Even if they use common story lines, indie horror filmmakers always manage to put something original in their films!!! They are the future of horror!!!


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