From The Shadows: Cult Movie
Dir: Mike Sargent
Release Date: 2023
“A cult die in a fire and, when the survivors reach out to a paranormal expert/debunker, they all find themselves in danger from forces unknown"
For those who remember the review I wrote on the Horror movie, Death Metal (check it out if you don't), this movie was also written and produced by the director of that one, Mr Michael Kuciak.
I was lucky enough to be sent a screener link to this one by Michael himself!
Once again, the following message:
For those who have read previous reviews on our site, or listened to our podcast, you will know that this spoiler free business is quite the ask as we usually dissect the movie in a deep dive, taking for granted that you, the good reader/listener, have already seen it.
That is not the case here, this movie is hot off the press.
Check out the trailer!
Let's do this.
The movie starts with and centres around a cult known as The Hidden Wisdom who have recently exploded. Tale as old as time
Hugely recognisable Bruce Davison stars as Joseph Cawl, enigmatic Cult Leader and now presumed deceased in his mansion fire - Cawl, not Davison.
Fun Fact: Bruce Davison has 272 Acting Credits on IMDB plus another 10 in Production. He's the classic 'Oh that's that guy from....'
We have various news reports referencing the usual rumours about cults (and mostly true if you were talking about the Bad Movie Cult) featuring dabbling with worshipping Pagan Gods, the occult and numerous sexual perversions.
We get a viral video of a black hooded demon with glowing eyes seen at the time of the fire and the update that he and five survivors of the fire are all still 'at large'.
Selena Anduze plays the debunking legend, Dr Amara Owen (Doctorate of Debunking?) and she has been granted an exclusive interview with 'The 5' who survived the flames.
Fun Fact: I've always enjoyed an 'And....' credit and seeing, 'And Keith David', is always a welcome bonus.
David plays Dr Leonard Bertam, Prof Cawl's former cohort in the Hidden Wisdom as evidenced in an infomercial introduced by Doctor Dre. Still with me?
Bertram left the Cult, denounced it all and publicly criticised Cawl. He then vanished and is presumed dead. Seems the go-to assumption for these guys, right?
This film has a kind of found footage feel to it as the majority of the movie is shown over video calls, CCTV footage and the infamous hand held shaky cam though, the latter is thankfully kept to a minimum.
This may turn some viewers off due to the limitations of presenting action in this format and the first half of the movie is pretty much a back-story climbing build to a more action based final third.
Those who stick around are to be rewarded with some intense scenes and some quality violence/gore effects courtesy of Vincent Guastini (Requiem for a Dream, Dogma, The Taking of Deborah Logan).
Some of the talky bits made me feel either dumb as shit or just stubbornly sceptical as they delve into Ancient Egyptian beliefs, inner reflection, self realisation and unlocking of neurological powers to unlock and control ones own mind and reality. Uh-huh, okay....
In equal measure, I watched this with headphones on and there are enough jump scares which made me shit my pants. Maybe I need to try to control my subconscious and stop that from happening again at work.
Fun Fact: The score is from Alan Howarth who has worked with John Carpenter on Escape From New York, Halloween 2-6, Christine, Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness and They Live.
Remember the hooded figure video I mentioned at the beginning? Well, he somehow turns up and proceeds to murder them all. What are the chances of that happening eh?
We are treated to some good fun and nasty deaths/injury detail. Notably a slit throat which then opens up and talks!!! This wound proceeds to warn the others that they are in danger and will be killed. Debunk that, oh mighty debunker!!
Deciding they must complete the visualisation (?), the remaining members are advised by Zoe - the pushy bitch of the group - they must not break the circle or they will all die. Seems harsh but pretty persuasive.
Dr Amara joins in and they focus their Alpha (?) and focus on V-tech images to unlock their minds. Sadly (or thankfully), people are still being killed all over the place.
A bit of skinning, a massive knife through the back of head and emerging from the mouth (Fulci style) and the same blade plunged into the eyes! Ouch. Very well done, but ouch.
Twists, turns, revelations and about-turns aplenty in the final third and quite what the Hell happens next is for you, the curious viewer, to discover and, as for who the actual villain is, that is open to interpretation.
Is the hooded killer a mindless demon hellbent of destruction or trying to save humanity by eliminating those who would unwittingly bring about the apocalypse?
This is well worth taking a look at for those who enjoy Found Footage or just Horror in general. It shows an intelligence
Already a Festival favourite, it is currently enjoying a limited Cinema release over in the States featuring a 22-28/09/23 run in New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, Dallas and Washington DC.
Fun Fact: This movie will be exclusively available on VUDU from 29th Sept - 28th Oct, before more widely available on VOD from 29th Oct
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If Keith David is in a movie, It's gonna be him.
Favourite moment has to be a slit throat which starts to speak. How can it not be.?
Reporter: "Rumours persist that this eccentric though supposedly altruistic cult was just a façade for murder. And perhaps even worse"
The eyes have it. AGAIN! Seriously Michael, you really love eyes, right?