REVIEWS FOR INDEPENDENT FILM, LOW BUDGET FILM, SHORT FILM & WEB SERIES
Irony. It's everywhere. For Jacob, the content of his newest book is the biggest irony of all. Being a published writer has given him the perfect excuse, to indulge in his fascination with the afterlife. And why not? It's a topic that has always interested people. Life and death, heaven and hell. The perfect narrative for the uncertain times we live in. But is his new book idea ironic at all? It's only when his wife starts noticing strange sounds, knocks and apparitions, that Jacob truly begins to understand the gravity of his subject matter. Perhaps, in light of current events, he'll have some first hand experience to include - because it seems some supernatural or demonic force has taken a liking to him, his wife and whoever happens to be around the couple. But what does it all mean - and will they live long enough to find out? That's the question.
"Bounded By Evil" is a low budget horror offering that is surprisingly effective. Written and directed by Eli Gray, this film is not only crammed with apparition/demon sightings, it's also got more than enough jump scares to keep the adrenaline flowing. Gray and his troupe have set out on a very ambitious project, considering the obvious budget restraints. Mostly it works - but there is one catch. "Bounded By Evil" works well as you watch it unfold. It's when you try and think about what's going on or has happened, that things slightly fall apart. Certain plot points don't quite add up. The twist ending, that I loved by the way, begins to slightly crumble once what's really going on is revealed. You may find yourself questioning the inclusion of entire scenes - and how they make sense if the final act is to be taken at face value. But you know what? That's alright with me. For me, the success of a movie is given or taken away as I watch it. The aftermath is nowhere near as important. We could all pick apart plot points in movies - the question is that of a good time when viewing. I had a great time. No question.
Now for the dreaded technical review. If you're not into the jibber-jabber tech elements, I recommend skipping past this section. Now, as an indie site we know finishing a film is tough by itself. Getting that awesome camera setup and lighting rig is sometimes, usually, well out of financial range. With that said, we've seen some amazing no budget films that look dynamite - yet anything that looks better than an iPhone version of the "Blair Witch Project" is always hoped for.
"Bounded By Evil" at times really looked spectacular. The lighting and atmosphere felt spot on and visually, it easily rivaled some of it's heavily budgeted counterparts. It's a shame the entire film wasn't like that. Mixed in with the awesome, were a few poorly lit shots that looked hand held. We also had numerous color changes during edits/cuts. It was almost as if multiple people filmed this movie, with different gear and varying amounts of patience. What struck me, was that I could see the technical needs were available, but sometimes felt unused. I also know that hand-held, as a style, can be used to convey a frantic scene. Yet even that style can be done right or wrong. Sometimes in this film... it just didn't work.
I also felt some of the edits themselves, at times, were in my face. I can't really describe the feeling but I do know this. A good edit is completely unnoticed. I noticed more than a few. Other than that, a few sync issues with what I assume was re-recorded dialog, drew me out of the film a few times and it did, near the end, feel like the film was slightly long running.
Now the good stuff. The cast, especially JP DeStefano and Sheri Oster as our leads did a great job. If the majority of the film is re-recorded as I suspect, all the more congrats to them. Pulling off a good performance, after the fact, and into a microphone is tough. In this film however, it seems natural. The supporting roles were all handled nicely as well - something often overlooked in indie movies. If you're looking for a bad performance you won't really find it here. Maybe a line or two felt out of place, but nothing really worth writing about.
Another thing I noticed was some of the attention to detail. I'm not going to go into it, but I did appreciate it. From a broadcasting radio with no batteries, to grit and crud in the hair after a fall, these things were all taken care of. Nice job.
At the end of the day atmosphere is king and "Bounded By Evil" has it. Some solid scene work and a great cast go a long way in making this a fun little spook-fest. Getting a feeling akin to what I get watching films like "Exorcist 3" is far from a bad thing. This is what it's all about. That creeping fear building inside you. And the ending? As I wrote above, I loved the twist. A solid three and a half stars out of five.