Scott A Hamilton
Chad Morton, Rachel K Ofori, Scott A Hamilton
Almost as scary as needing a transplanted organ? When you finally manage to get one. Who had to die in order for you to live? What kind of person were they and what did they leave behind? Of course, you know it's not your fault - whatever happened. But on quiet nights, those guilty thoughts can still linger. As must the curiosity and carnal need to find out about the unfortunate donor, or their families. Learn about them. See if any of their traits have been transplanted to you, hitching a ride with your new lease on life. If, and when, things start to go wrong within your own life - could this also be the fault of the organ donor? Could they become the perfect scapegoat? Perhaps... but what happens if you begin to actually see things? Visions of past events. What then? Could cell memory be a real thing? Not just something made up by science fiction nerds and horror writers? It's all so easy to dismiss - until it isn't. Until you're living the nightmare. Or perhaps, could the very notion presented by such writers, be the reason for your hallucinations? The powers of the mind can be astounding right?
No matter the cause, Jake Warren plans to find out the true meaning and purpose of his hallucinations. If that's what they even are. After a successful kidney transplant, he's been having said dreams - and visions. Visions of murder and mayhem. Being a hard working, successful business owner and family man, his hard working - get things done life ethic demands no less. He needs to figure out just what - and who these visions are showing him. For Jake, not only does justice demand it... but so does his sanity. His family and his friends.
Quickly becoming an obsession, just how far will Jake go to uncover the truth? What will be the cost? And finally, with a local murderer on the loose, what is really going on? These questions are the backbone of "What Death Leaves Behind" and although told in a non linear fashion, the narrative comes through loud and clear. Scott A Hamilton directs an excellent indie film - one that gives many heavily budgeted studio flicks a run for their money.
The first fifteen or so minutes of a film generally dictate the pacing and quality of what follows. You can learn a lot from the intro of a first act, unless of course... the filmmakers have thrown in a catch. I knew going in to this film, that it was presented in a non linear way so in truth? All bets were off. The fifteen minute rule didn't apply. I can't count the amount of times this form of presentation was done as a gimmick. One that didn't work. Generally, I wish people would steer clear of this format but in this case? I'm not sure the film could have been as effective any other way. Not as a feature length movie anyhow.
The erratic presentation actually improves the tension. Stretches out the story - and I mean that in the best possible way. "What Death Leaves Behind" doesn't drag or feel lengthy at all. I'm happy to write that the pacing feels spot on - and the lack of a point A to point B adds a depth, that I don't think could have been achieved using a traditional story telling approach.
The cast within this film is large. I could dedicate another entire review to the acting alone. So let me just write that for a low budget indie film, the acting is stand out. Not just from our leading man Jake, but from the entire supporting cast as well. None of the hallmarks of indie film are present - mainly the hollow or corny acting. Instead, we get to witness a bunch of talented individuals making damn sure we take this movie seriously. A huge thank you to the entire troupe from myself. It's always great to forget you're watching a film - and simply focus on the story being told.
The rest of the production elements have all been taken care of in a proper way as well. Nice camera work, a nice editing pace and a great backing score. I truly have no real complaints - this film plays great and was a pleasure to watch.
At the end of the day only one thing really matters. Was I interested and entertained? The answer is an easy one. Yes. Yes I was. Although not completely unique in concept, "What Death Leaves Behind" was fresh enough, and done well enough, to make it a great way to spend an hour and a half. A well deserved four out of five stars in my humble opinion. I think most will agree.