SUSPENSION is another film in the 2015 After Dark, 8 Films to Die For film lineup. Whereas this isn’t the strongest film in the 2015 roster, it does have its heart in the right place. This is a psychological-slasher film that tries to offer something new to the sub-genre, but unfortunately you’ll see the ending coming a mile away. Let’s see if there’s anything worth salvaging from this one.
SUSPENSION stars Ellen MacNevin as Emily, a timid, sweet girl who is being bullied at school for no apparent reason. Emily also has a great imagination and is a talented artist. She carries around with her a sketch book with what is essentially an original graphic novel that she is working on. The subject matter? It seems her dear old dad–who is no longer in the picture anymore–went off his nut and violently killed a bunch of people. The graphic novel she is working on (and I stress the word graphic) is Emily’s way of dealing with the trauma from her past. As the movie unfolds, we get a lot of scenes of Emily’s comic book, and especially of the masked killer in her story–her dad.
One day she is caught drawing in her sketch book and the teacher takes it from her. Emily doesn’t like this and grabs it back and runs off. The teacher suspends her, thus the title of the film. I’m not sure why the filmmakers decided to title the movie after such a small, insignificant event that took place in the film. Emily being suspended could have been left out of the plot altogether and it wouldn’t have changed a thing (the rest of the film unfolds over the course of one night). When Emily gets home, her mother is called into work early, so Emily has to babysit her younger brother, who was one of their father’s first victims. The brother was bashed over the head with a hammer and as a result, doesn’t talk anymore. As the night unfolds and Emily reads and shows her brother her graphic novel, strange things begin to happen. It seems the masked killer from Emily’s comic (her father) is back and killing people in some pretty horrible ways. Is the killer a figment of Emily’s imagination? Is it one of the bullies from school taking things to the next level? Is it the killer from her graphic novel that has somehow jumped from the page into reality? If you finished the fifth grade you’ll have no problem figuring out what is going on within the first ten minutes of the film. Unfortunately.
First the positives. The acting is, overall, strong. Ellen MacNevin (Emily) is a strong actress and pulls off her role beautifully. She is convincing as a timid and scared victim, and when she needs to become strong to help protect her brother, her transformation is believable. Most of the cast does a solid job in their roles. Only one actor, Courtney Paige Theroux, who plays one of Emily’s bullies, comes across as overacting and not really up for the job. Theroux’s performance isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but compared to the rest of the cast it stands out as being pretty amateurish. Something else that I couldn’t help but notice is that the cast is supposed to be in high school, yet they all look to be deep into their twenties. I’m all for suspending disbelief, but I’d sooner buy the cast of BEVERLEY HILLS 90210 being in middle school!! The other element you’ll likely enjoy here is that director Jeffery Scott Lando isn’t afraid to show the gore. Compared to the overall tone of SUSPENSION, the gore is brutal and the camera doesn’t turn away during the good parts.
Unfortunately, writer Kevin Mosley just wasn’t up to the task of being able to pull off what he was trying to do. Based on the ending (don’t worry, no spoilers here), the revelation as to who the killer was, was apparently supposed to be a twist and a shock to the viewer. But as mentioned above, the majority of viewers will figure it all out long before the ending comes. Mosley also just took too long to get everything rolling. At the thirty-one minute mark I remember thinking that nothing has really happened yet. There’s a solid story in here somewhere, but as it was made, it all just takes too long to get going and doesn’t have the best payoff in the end.
In the end, SUSPENSION doesn’t leave much of an impression, and that is a shame. I liked the character of Emily and thought the film should have been about her recovering from such a traumatic past. Actress MacNevin held this film together for me as long as she could. I also enjoyed the gore here, but overall I just couldn’t connect with this film. If you’re looking for some solid gore and don’t mind being a little bored along the way, then SUSPENSION will give you what you’re looking for. Other than that, you may want to steer clear.
Director: Jeffery Scott Lando
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 7 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer