This is some top-notch storytellin' y'all. Writer/Director Jaron Lockridge has cooked up an intense Indie Horror film that's bound to keep you captivated and on the edge of your seat – "Succuba" is stellar to watch. Based largely on excellent writing, gripping dialogue, and bold characters, this film is bare bones regarding what makes it great, but I can certainly vouch for how well it came out. We're not talkin' about tons of effects or even tons of different locations and whatnot – "Succuba" simply uses solid acting, the right script, and a strong set of ideas to make this experience outright scary.
Honestly, I felt like Lockridge could give a real master class on how to get the maximum results from a minimal budget; he has proven that an excellent film can still be made from the true fundamentals of a compelling story at the root of it all. It's not even that "Succuba" is really all that new of a tale when it comes down to it; it's just that Jaron has found a way to tell it so much better than most could. Of course, it helps if you're able to suspend any disbelief you have as a watcher and somewhat 'go with it' – you need to be able to at least believe in the core concept of pure evil being able to exist in this world. It won't hurt if you dig on tales where the supernatural meets religion and creature-based films too. If you're willing and able to do that, I think you'll love how effective "Succuba" becomes at creating the kind of tension, mood, and tone that's seriously intense to watch from beginning to end.
I love movies that tend to take place within just a few settings; usually, that's an indication of a film that will rely heavily on the strength of its dialogue and characters, which "Succuba" certainly does. In that sense, it's like a campfire story or folklore – we don't need a ton of visuals onscreen when the words are capable of making our minds fill in the blanks even better. The main character of this film, Eddie Williams, is played perfectly by Keith Johnson, straight-up. I feel like we couldn't have asked for an ounce more than what we got out of his performance and that, overall, a lot of the success of "Succuba" rested squarely on his shoulders. His expressions and reaction shots are awesome to watch, and he has to take on a multi-layered character to pull the story off, so sometimes we see him as the Eddie the town knows, and for a large portion of this film, he's a different Eddie altogether, fueled by a totally different purpose. He rose to the occasion and proved he could easily carry the weight of an entire film. The supporting cast around him all holds their own without a doubt, but Johnson has shown that he's got the X-factor big-time - when it comes to this particular genre. This dude should be in a whole lot more movies! That being said, to be completely fair to Jaron Lockridge, if he had a massive budget, I think he'd be within the upper circles of Hollywood on the front lines of new horror.
A lot of "why" a film like "Succuba" works as well as it does comes down to smart storytelling and the right direction. To me, the real key in any kind of horror film that is going to reveal some kind of creature - at some point, is to use those moments cleverly and ultimately still let our imagination fill in the blanks. As in, if you show it too much or too clearly, a creature will tend to quickly lose that frightening aspect or "hold" it has taken on us from what we've heard about it. But if you dole it out in the right way, it can definitely enhance the horror of the story. For the most part, Lockridge aimed at the latter scenario and only showed us what we needed to see in that regard. I think there's almost a small argument that could be made that he hardly needed to show us the "Succuba" in its creature form at all - when you consider that it's basically all the scenes surrounding those moments that make the most impact in this film. Case in point, we witness the "Succuba" in both humanoid and creature forms, and it's probably the version in the flesh that's likely to chill your blood that much colder as you watch.
All-in-all, considering how little Lockridge needed to make this as good as it was, I'm really stoked about the results here - and giving this film a very strong three and a half stars out of five, right on the border of a four. You add in a bit of slick sound editing, more vivid colorization, and draw - this story out a little bit more from just over an hour to a ninety-minute tale, and I think "Succuba" would easily benefit and possibly be an even better movie. My biggest complaint is that I felt it should have been slightly longer. As it stands, it's solid indie horror done right – I really enjoyed watching this film.