Enter a dark realm of ancient monsters in Miles Doleac’s chilling folk horror Demigod, starring Rachel Nichols (Titans, The Man in the High Castle).
Upon the sudden death of her estranged huntsman grandfather and the news that he’s left her all his worldly possessions, Robin (Rachel Nichols) and her husband travel back to her birthplace in Germany's foreboding Black Forest. Already plagued by terrifying visions of childhood memories she can’t quite make sense of, Robin nevertheless remembers fondly her grandfather Karl’s (Jeremy London, Mallrats) deep connection to the natural world, the animals, and even the ‘spirits’ of the ancient forest.
Soon after arriving at her grandfather’s secluded cabin, however, Robin realises that the inheritance left her is far more macabre than she had bargained for. Stalked by a trio of witches, she finds herself entrenched in an ancient hunting ritual that will force her to reckon with her family's past and her own will to overcome the monstrous obstacles in her path.
Demigod is available to rent or own on digital HD from Bulldog Film Distribution on 21 February 2022
Runtime: 95 mins approx
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On their first getaway as a couple, a woman's boyfriend becomes a conduit for God and warns her that she will die and go to hell unless she repents and worships him.
Directors: Jared Jay Mason, Clark Runciman
Editor: Spence Nicholson
Cast: Swayde McCoy, Jordan Ashley Grier
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."
Well, that all sounds like a bit of a downer. You'd think with good old God coming back; it would be one massive party; I bet if it were Odin, the mead would be flowing with great gusto. But alas, we are stuck with the dull old Judeo Christian version of the Lord. Good thing I'm not a Believer.
This brings us to this rather unusual film, The Great And Terrible Day of the Lord, from directors Jared Jay Mason and Clark Runciman, filmed with only two characters and, for all intents and purposes, shot in one location. When I went to purchase a copy of the film from Amazon, despite having a screener link for the film ( I hate watching films on a computer screen, I need to get comfy, and typing in a long URL on a smart TV always fills me with rage) I have to admit that my heart sank when I saw the running time, at around two hours, I was thinking "what in the hell have I let myself in for?". A two-hour film with only two characters that was shot if I have my facts correct as a student film. I got a massive flashback to my days as a school lab technician and the weeks I would have to endure sitting watching student plays and fashion shows as I was the only one qualified to work the light and soundboards. I'll tell you this I was scared and somewhat worried that I would have to come up with some excuse to get out of reviewing the film; I tell you it's a hard knock life being a reviewer.
Yet here I am, and here you are reading my review of The Great And Terrible Day of the Lord; the question is, is this going to be one of those reviews that tear the work of new director shreds or is it going to be something altogether different.
The Great And Terrible Day of the Lord sees Gabby and Michael, a relatively new couple take their first-weekend break away together to a rather swanky cabin in the woods (never a good idea in a horror movie, it never turns out well). After a short while, Michael begins to take a turn for the worse; when I say a turn for the worse, what I mean is Michael falls entirely off his rocker and begins to channel God through his body. However, if that's not bad enough, God Micheal then informs Gabby that she will die by the end of the trip and has a one-way ticket direct to hell unless she repents and worships God Michael. I've got to say as a "chat up line" that's pretty daring, but seriously, is Michael God, or is Michael a cold-hearted psychopath intent on gaslighting Gabby to do his bidding until he decides it is time for her to die.
What proceeds is basically a two-hour film of our two actors talking to each other interspersed with a few moments of light action and drama; the film should have been a long slog. It sure as hell isn't the sort of film I would typically gravitate towards, as I have a short attention span; however, I have to say that after ten minutes or so of the film, I was glued to the screen, totally and utterly inc=vested in what I was watching and slightly surprised when the film was over as i have never managed to sit through a two-hour film without having to pause it to something else.
There are several factors at play in why this film is such a success; first off, for a student film it is shot really well, yes you can tell it's not a big studio production, with lots of fancy cameras and lights. Still, the feel of the film has an almost documentary style to it which allows the viewer to feel as though they are right in the middle of what is unfolding on the screen, which gives the viewer and film and much more intimate feel.
Most film reviews never mention the accompanying score, but John Tadlock's score is accomplished and perfectly fits and enhances the events on the screen.
The directors Jared Jay Mason and Clark Runciman keep the events grounded with a gritty sense of believability, there is a danger in films like with an inexperienced cast and crew for the film to become a little bit too melodramatic, if you know what I mean, with the leads trying to out act each other, but Mason and Runciman, have kept the performances grounded in reality, with only the rare occasion where one of the actors slightly hams it up for the camera. The greatest success from the director's point of view is the fact that this two-hour-long dialogue intense film never sags; there is an organic rhythm to the film that ebbs and flows with a great deal of confidence, never allowing the film to drag or develop a sense of bloat. Suppose you compare this micro-budget film to many of the bigger budget films. In that case, you start to think that maybe Holywood needs to start looking elsewhere for their directors; if you can have a film with just two actors hold your attention more firmly than a big superhero movie, then you know you are witnessing the emergence of two great new talents.
Jordan Ashley Grier and Swayde McCoy don't have many acting credits to their names, but boy, oh boy, both of their performances are hypnotic and utterly compelling. With such an intimate film, you need a certain amount of chemistry between the two leads, and these two have it in bucket loads, or should that be beaker loads. McCoy is spellbinding as God/Michael, switching seamlessly between Michael worried that he is having a mental breakdown and the megalomaniacal God. He is sure that he is infallible and never wrong. You will be on the edge of your seat whenever Michael goes full-on wrath of God. Despite there not being any traditional horror elements to this film, McCoys' performance is at times genuinely chilling and elicits a real sense of dread and fear in the viewer, while at the same time allowing you to feel sympathy for the plight of Michael as he may or may not be going through a total mental breakdown.
Grier is also a joy to watch, her breadth of acting skills is tremendous, switching seamlessly from concerned girlfriend, to frightened victim, to sod this I'm not taking your crap anymore God/Michael. A depth of emotion to her performance shines throughout her screen time. Even when God/Micheal is in full effect, she still holds her ground on-screen with a sympathetic display of someone who, despite going through a vast range of emotional peaks and troughs, is someone who still cares for Michael, despite him being, even before his transformation something of a douche.
The Great And Terrible Day of the Lord is a heavy film, dialogue intense, and a film determined to tackle massive issues about faith, religion, relationships, and gaslighting. It has been over a week since I watched the film, and I'm still trying to unpack many themes presented here. It is clear that Jared Jay Mason has a lot to say about these themes, and from my limited knowledge about them, it is clear that he has put a great deal of thought and research into them. One of the film's greatest successes is the ambiguous way in which both the themes of the film and ultimately the truth of Michaels condition are presented to the viewer. This isn't merely a two-hour-long sermon on religion and faith; the Great And Terrible Day of the Lord allows the viewer to make up their minds as Gabby and Michael debate theology in this deeply thought-provoking film. It could have so quickly become one extended preachy self-righteous film, but everyone involved in the film presents this from happening. If you are looking for easy answers, then this is not the film for you, but if you are looking for a film that will hold your attention for long after the final credit has rolled, then The Great And Terrible Day of the Lord is a film that you have to watch.
And if you are wondering if Michael is God, then go and rent it on Amazon now; I'll let you find that out for yourself.
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