(2021) Horror (LAS Productions) Kenny Ledee, Chelsea Rose Barreto, Vincent Caprio, Suzanne Johnson, Ashley Laessig, Jenn Nobile, Esra Ozgun, Rink Patel, Katie Raulerson, Saniye Reyhan, Kurt Slter, Julia Wyrzuc, Mary Zaroura, Kurt Slater, Tony Murphy, Daniela Favaloro. Directed by Joshua Nelson
The wisdom goes that the easiest kind of movie to make is a horror movie. That is about as far from the truth as it gets. Horror films are relatively inexpensive to make (which is why studios love them so much) but they are damned hard to get right. Making a good scare requires as much forethought and planning as any CGI, and when not done properly, can lead to a horror movie that isn’t scary. A lot of tyro filmmakers go into horror films with that attitude and make tepid films that please nobody. That is not always the case, however.
Triaphilia is a horror anthology film with three short stories linked together by an antiques and curios store called The Anointed Cherub, which might give you a clue as to who the proprietor (Ledee) really is. He caters to the customer, giving them what they need, although not necessarily what they want. All of his wares come with a real dark side to them.
The first story brings Sal (Patel), who is meeting his girlfriend Karen’s (Raulerson) parents for the first time and he hopes to impress them by bringing them a gift, although she is of the opinion that he would be much better served buying something for her instead. The proprietor convinces Sal to purchase an antique mirror. You can probably see where this is going, as mirrors rarely merely show a reflection in horror movies.
The second story has a trio of fun-loving girls – Bonnie (Laessig), Jeanine (Wyrzuc) and Ruby (Zazoura) – buy an urn that purportedly has the ashes of a serial killer in them. That’s all good for grins and giggles until the deceased killer’s wife (Ozgun) wants her hubby’s ashes back – and she’s not about to take no for an answer.
The final story revolves around Susan (Nobile), a grieving mom who was always a little off but her beloved son Franklin’s death has really sent her around the bend. Her friends Zoe (Barreto) and Ronnie (Reyhan) volunteer to help her store Franklin’s things and at the Anointed Cherub they find a big steamer trunk for the purpose. However, as it turns out, the trunk isn’t exactly empty.
None of the stories are groundbreaking, but they don’t have to be. The third story has the most depth to it and the first the most humor. What matters in a movie like this is that the stories are executed properly, and on that matter the jury is unfortunately out. From a technical standpoint, the movie excels in several ways; the cinematography is absolutely first-rate, so kudos to Michael Zayac in that regard. The gore effects are all practical and while fairly low-budget, are at least competently done.
Where the movie is less successful is in the performances; the acting feels flat and lifeless in a lot of places. One reason for that may be the dialogue which often doesn’t sound like real people talking so much as what looks good on a written script. One of the sins often committed by screenwriters (particularly those that are relatively new to it) is that they fail to actually speak the dialogue out loud before committing it to the script. That often helps make the dialogue sound more natural and less like a book on tape. Also, too many of the characters are shallow and none-too-bright. A little more variety could have been useful, particularly in the female characters. The two actors who fare best is Ledee, who seems to be having the most fun with his role, and Nobile who gives her part equal pathos and WTF-ness.
By no means is this a truly bad movie – I’ve seen plenty of those to know what one looks like – but making movies is a learning experience and that’s what’s happening here. There’s enough that is worthwhile to take a look, so long as you don’t set the bar too high for it. I didn’t feel compelled to switch the movie off, so it held my interest as it is likely to hold yours. There are plenty of movies that don’t even make it that far.
The movie is currently unavailable to screen, but is set to be available in the last quarter of the year on Amazon and other streaming services.
REASONS TO SEE: The cinematography is extremely strong.
REASONS TO AVOID: The acting is flat and the characters for the most part not terribly well-written.
FAMILY VALUES: There is plenty of violence (some of it bloody) and profanity, including sexual references.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Although the film defines triaphilia as the “fear of death coming in threes,” the Latin words actually translate to “love of things that come in threes” and refers more to the belief that things occur in threes rather than a fear of it.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/5/21: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Needful Things
FINAL RATING: 5.5/10
NEXT: The Sleepless Unknown