I think it's safe to say that this film easily accomplished it's goals. Just what are those goals? For myself? I'd have to say... creating a film that almost completely relies on atmospherics to scare the hell out of a person. Well... maybe "scare" isn't exactly the word. Mickey Reece's film "Strike, Dear Mistress, And Cure His Heart" doesn't outright scare a person. Not me anyhow. Yet the tension created, the possibility of a scare so great you'll never sleep again, is clearly present and accounted for. This is one of those strange movies that quite simply, relies on tension to keep you watching - and watching you'll keep doing. From start to finish. I rarely use the term "nail biter" when writing about a film, maybe not ever, but this really is the closest phrase I can think of when trying to sum up this title. Not a bad thing... not at all.
David and Madeline, a freshly married couple, decide buying and restoring a historic hotel would be not only great for themselves, but also for David's ever growing portfolio. As luck would have it, Madeline's mother Dianne resides close by, and she is invited to stay and help with the project. Madeline and Dianne's relationship has never been a good one. Perhaps now would be a great time to mend their complex yet broken relationship? Appease those inner demons. The question is this... are those demons truly inner ones? This will have to be for the viewer to decide - but I can say this. "Strike, Dear Mistress, And Cure His Heart" is not really a ghost story. Or one of the devil or his minions. Not "really" anyway. Most of that "creep factor" comes from regular, run of the mill, mental health issues. Created, born with, or a mixture of both is up for anyone to debate. Although I can't write that supernatural elements are completely absent, it will be up to you, the viewer, to decide just how much is real or only in the mind. One thing is for sure, Mickey Reece sure knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat as you try and figure it out.
The hardest part when constructing these write-ups are the brief amounts of space saved for the technical commentary. Brief as they are, it's not a fun task. As independent movies, you can't expect blockbuster budgets. Yet this is a site for these films. Be brutally honest? Be generous? Avoid elements you know have the ability to devastate? The point is that this particular film actually makes things easy for me. Visually, it looks great. Even the shots that "could" be considered to be lacking something... fit great into the overall narrative. Less than stellar lighting for a certain shot? Of course! It works for the atmosphere... and it truly does. I personally think that any "less than perfect" shot simply adds to the tension. Same goes for any slight sound issues. The truth is that nothing, technically stands out. It all helps create this foreboding feeling. Having an excellent backing score surely doesn't hurt either. Maybe excellent isn't quite the word... perfect would be better. Perfectly unusual. Perfectly creepy and at times, perfectly without any real meaning. I should add that the random underscoring scattered around really does keep your fingernails glued to your mouth.
As for the cast themselves? All I have to say is hell yeah! The acting in this film is so unusual... so dead and hollow at times... that it's perfect. "Strike, Dear Mistress, And Cure His Heart" almost feels poetic with it's dialog. Sometimes amusing but usually unsettling. The relationship between David (Jacob Snovel) and Madeline (Audrey Wagner) is portrayed perfectly. Perfectly unusual in a delightful way. The real treat however, is watching Madeline and her mother Dianne (Mary Buss) interact and remember. Remember me mentioning those inner demons? This is where you see it all unfold. All in all, the entire cast, including all the supporting roles, did one hell of a job. Visual atmosphere is nothing without the talent to bring the story home. For this film? That was a non-issue.
"Strike, Dear Mistress, And Cure His Heart" is the very definition of a creepy, atmospheric movie. The odd angles, scoring, and acting all come together to really get the job done. Most people will have no problem taking it all in. Even if you're not into horror films. You see... it's not about the horror here. It's about keeping your eyes glued to the screen. About creating interest, atmosphere. A solid four stars. For genre fans, I expect my rating to be considered conservative.