As an avid horror fan, I love when a good low budget flick exceeds your expectations. I am not talking about the ones that become festival cult hits like It Follows but more like films that hit store shelves with no fanfare and you usually come upon just by chance. Such a film came out this month that I was really impressed by for its entertainment value and creativity. The film is The Neon Dead and it is out now.
Allison Hillstead (Marie Barker) is an recent college grad trying desperately to find a job but has at least had the good luck to inherit a new home. But along with the home comes a few extras in the form of bizarre glowing apparitions. After getting the names of two paranormal investigators named Desmond (Greg Garrison) and Jake (D. Dylan Schettina)
from a local girl guide, Allison hires them to find out what the beings are and how to get rid of them. But there may be much more to the story than a simple haunting, perhaps a connection to Allison herself.
The Neon Dead is written and directed by Torey Haas, formerly a VFX artist. And that experience is right up there on the screen as the creature work in The Neon Dead is very well done for a low budget film. The creatures look cool, with pops of neon and crazy features, and there are plenty of them. All of the effects are very creative and original and make for a fun and different experience from your average zombie movie. But the thing that really stood out for me was lead actress Marie Barker. According to IMDB she has only done one other movie besides The Neon Dead but she definitely has a natural and charismatic screen presence. She is funny and never really seems like your average b-movie actress, she sells her part wholly. The same can’t be said for the investigators. D. Dylan Schettina is pretty funny as geeky Jake but Greg Garrison, who plays the more dominant of the pair, Desmond, is all shmutzy asshole. Garrison pulls it off well but it is hard to tell if he pulls it off because he is a good actor or because he isn’t. Either way he comes off more scripted, cheesier and definitely more douche baggy. But it is not so extreme that it takes away from the enjoyability of the movie. Barker keeps things solid and Haas direction and creature work keep it fun for the whole running time. For something different and entertaining, check out The Neon Dead. Recommended.