Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
DWF ’14: The Periphery
a Pope Francis kind of priest, young Father McCready is uncomfortable with traditional
ideas of demons and exorcisms. In contrast, his headmaster, Father Jenkins, is
an old school Benedict XVI kind of clergyman. Unfortunately, the senior priest’s
diagnosis will prove correct for one of their students. Things get Exorcistic in Tom Lewis’s The Periphery (trailer here), which screens
during the seventeenth Dances With Films.
Cassie Stevens died and came back to life. Unfortunately, the young girl her
drunken goth friends ran over was not so fortunate. Frankly, her second lease
on life turns out to be more of a curse than a blessing. Not only must she
endure the public shame and survivor’s guilt resulting from her accident,
something sinister has apparently followed her from the other side. Initially,
she can only see it vaguely out of the corner of her eye, but it steadily gets
closer and more belligerent.
say in the film: “evil hides in the periphery,” which sound heavy. More
importantly, it prevents Lewis from over-exposing the malevolent entity,
forcing him to suggest rather than show, which is always a winning horror movie
strategy. His instincts are not always so on target, particularly the opening narration
(“I’m Cassie Stevens and I see blurry androgynous figures”) that makes it sound
like a television pilot. The general tone is also surprisingly dour and
like Blatty and Friedkin, Lewis addresses his themes of good, evil, and
redemption with scrupulous seriousness. He also establishes an effective dichotomy
between the secular reason of Stevens’ psychiatrist, Dr. Switzer, and the faith
of Father Jenkins. In fact, the best things going for Periphery are the distinctive supporting turns from Larrs Jackson
(with his incredible radio voice) and executive producer Myron Natwick as Dr.
Switzer and Fr. Jenkins, respectively. The young kids just don’t have the
presence of the veteran cats.
is simply nowhere near the Exorcist’s
level, but Lewis (an attorney specializing in film production work in his
other life) nicely handles some third act revelations and maintains a menacing
vibe throughout. It is also compelling to watch the re-assertion of Fr.
McCready’s flagging faith, at least for the bad stuff. (Still, you have to
wonder where Stevens’ supposedly concerned parents are constantly disappearing
to, in the middle of the night.) While certainly a B-movie, it is considerably
better than you would expect. Worth checking out for die-hard horror fans, The Periphery screens Tuesday night
(6/3) during this year’s Dances With Films in Hollywood proper.
Labels: DWF '14, Horror Movies