Maple Pictures' December '06 Releases
A Dead Calling (December 15/06)
Aside from the novelty of watching noted cinematic creep Sid Haig play a relatively normal guy, A Dead Calling doesn't possess a whole lot in the way of positive attributes. Alexandra Holden stars as Rachel Beckwith, an investigative reporter who stumbles upon a haunted house while pursuing a story for a local television station. Problems ensue after it becomes clear that the spirits are counting on Rachel to set them free, which obviously raises the ire of the man who killed them. Written and directed by Michael Feifer, A Dead Calling admittedly benefits from Holden's surprisingly effective performance - though there's virtually nothing else within the film that actually works. Feifer has infused the proceedings with dialogue that's either incredibly banal or thoroughly overwrought, while his directorial choices are bland and unimpressive (the ridiculously low-budget vibe certainly doesn't help matters). That the film is entirely lacking in actual scares goes without saying, and it's unlikely that even the most forgiving horror buff will find much of anything worth embracing here.
Dreamland (December 16/06)
Dreamland casts Agnes Bruckner as Audrey, a lonely teenager trapped within the confines of the titular trailer park - where she must contend with a grieving father (John Corbett) and a fatally-ill best friend (Kelli Garner). The arrival of recuperating basketball player Mookie (Justin Long) forces Audrey to question her choices, and inevitably throws her future within Dreamland into doubt. Directed by first-time filmmaker Jason Matzner, Dreamland moves at a deliberate pace and doesn't possess a whole lot in the way of plot - and yet there's something strangely mesmerizing about the whole thing, with Bruckner's expectedly strong performance certainly a key element in the film's success. Jonathan Sela's stunning cinematography is complemented by the appropriately dreamy score, while the supporting cast is uniformly superb (Garner, in particular, is quite good). It's consequently easy enough to look past some of the problematic elements in Tom Willett's screenplay - including a few overtly convenient plot developments - and there's little doubt that the film heralds the arrival of a promising new director.