New Horror Releases: Death On Scenic Drive (2017) - Reviewed

Death on Scenic Drive is a remarkable and unique piece of cinema that breaks from what we traditionally envision when it comes to the supernatural subgenre, providing us with a decidedly original and powerful experience. A woman takes a housesitting job in the secluded snowy countryside. Expecting an easy and relaxing job, she soon discovers an evil entity that seeks to turn her into death itself. Judging from the rather generic poster and plot description it sounds like typical genre fare, but it's not. Not anywhere close. It is more of an art house or experimental horror film that still manages to scare and gross out the viewer. 

Using very minimal dialogue, writer and director Gabriel Carrer opts to go in a drastically different route, telling the narrative through a combination of strong visuals, sound effects, and a powerful score. It's a bold move to have almost no dialogue, but it only further enhances our focus and senses on the other cinematic elements. It's a story of the supernatural and demonic possession, something that we've seen many times before, yet not quite like this. 

The directing and cinematography are outstanding and there are a lot of interesting choices that were made to create a visually compelling movie. At first, the color and lighting may look rather plain in the main home setting. It appears to be more naturally lit by the outdoor sunlight, along with the normal indoor lighting, lamps, and candles. But, it creates a blue hue that overtakes most of the indoor setting, which nicely mixes with the light yellows from the lights. That is juxtaposed by some natural beauty scenes outside in the snow during the sunset, along with a series of wildly trippy neon scenes. The score from Starsky Partridge is terrific and really adds an extra level of horror and dread to the film, blending a techno and industrial sound with synth piano and sounds and noises. 

This is a small cast, with Stephanie Ash (Larissa) basically being the central focus of the picture. Everyone else only appears briefly, so it is all up to her to deliver a commanding and compelling performance. And she does just that, using almost no dialogue and conveying her character transformation through her body language, movements, and facial gestures. We see both gradual and drastic changes in Larissa throughout the film. 

While there are only several scenes that contain gore, they are pretty extreme and may actually shock some viewers. For the gore hungry fans, they'll love these moments. Some may not be satisfied with the amount of violence, but it was just enough to further the story. 

Death on Scenic Drive is a resounding success that attempts to go a different route and succeeds. It's an excellent example of how superb visuals, good sound effects, and a powerful score can positively impact a picture. While admittedly not for everyone, this is still one of the best indie horror films of the year. 

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