Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Visible Scars
Visible Scars made its debut last year at the Shockfest Film Festival and earned an award for Best Feature. On the other hand, it was dumped direct-to-DVD here on a bargain DVD / Blu-ray release. That creates some mixed expectations. Is the film an undiscovered gem? Or is it a surprise it won at the Shockfest Film Festival?
The film starts in 1993 with Mike Gillis in bed with a woman, Becky. She recently had twins and he seems very interested in her daughters. He claims he's just trying to make conversation, but he actually wants to buy one of the daughters. It seems he and his wife can't have kids. Of course the lady is appalled, so Mike kills her and steals the babies. His wife, Claudia (Carol Abney), is happy to have the kids, but this is far from a happy family. Mike is abusive to his wife and to protect the secret, he decides the girls should be raised in the basement.
We flash forward seven years and for reasons we don't see, Mike decides to kill and eat his wife. Mike isn't right in the head. Shortly after that, there is a fire that starts in the basement and the house collapses killing Mike and the two girls.
We flash forward again to the present day where we meet Stacy Walker (Jillian Murray). She's at a late night diner trying to get away from her abusive boyfriend, Brad (Jonas Fisch). She's heading to her uncle's cabin on Mount Falls and asks the waitress where it is. The waitress heard about the place on the news, something about a murder suicide. She gets the directions and leave. She calls her friend, Kelly, who doesn't know about Brad's abusive behavior, and tells her where she's going.
We next meet Detective Black (Dave Parke) at his retirement party. Detective Black is the cop who investigated Becky's and her two daughters' disappearance 17 years ago. He gets a call from the person who now lives in Becky's old trailer and found some evidence that he thinks might be of use. However, since Mike got rid of the Becky's body and kidnapped the two girls, it was chalked up as her running away and not a real crime. Detective Black is interested in following up this evidence, especially since he doesn't think enough effort was put into the case the first time. However, his boss just wants him to retire and forget any cold case. Instead, Detective Black steals the police file on Becky's disappearance before officially retiring.
The next day, Brad goes over to the house Kelly shares with Stacy and asks Kelly where Stacy is. Kelly promised not to tell Brad where she is, but after Brad sheds a few tears, Kelly breaks down and tells him. Kelly insists on going with Brad, while Chris (Timothy Ryan Cole), Kelly's boyfriend, insists on going with Kelly.
Meanwhile, Stacy finally makes it to her uncle's cabin, but not before being warned by a cop how dangerous the place is, as a lot of people have gone missing in the area. Some even say it might be haunted. She still feels a lot better once she gets to the cabin and is able to relax somewhat. However, this relaxation doesn't last. She begins to hear voices at night and wonders if the cop was right and the place is haunted.
Visible Scars tries to be too many films at the same time. There is the crazy killer parts with Tom Sizemore. There is the domestic abuse drama with Jillian Murray and Jonas Fisch. There is the police procedural with Detective Black trying to figure out what happened to those two girls. Then there's a teenage slasher that results when all elements finally meet up in the end. Having too many elements hurts the film for a few reasons. Firstly, it lacks cohesion. We jump back and forth between storylines too many times and it makes each storyline less compelling as a result. I was much more interested in watching Stacy's journey than Detective Black's, so I felt everytime the movie switched focus is was losing momentum. Secondly, because there are so many elements, there has to be a large cast as a result. Not only does this mean the film can't spend enough time developing any of them to any degree, it also means the cast was perhaps too large for its budget. There are there some positive elements, including the performance by Jillian Murray and some story elements were intriguing. I think it would have been better had the film been more focused.
Extras include an audio commentary track with the writer / director, Richard Turke. There are also an alternative ending and two deleted scenes. As for its technical presentation, I only have the DVD to review, but it is a bargain release, so I don't expect great audio and video quality. On the other hand, it is a bargain release and it only costs $6 for the DVD and $8 for the Blu-ray.
Visible Scars isn't a bad movie,but it is merely average. There are no extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, which further hurts its overall value. That said, if you like the genre, paying $6 for the DVD or $8 for the Blu-ray isn't a bad deal. It wouldn't take much replay value to make it worth picking up.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2013-07-07