Don't be put off by the title, for this psychic thriller has a lot going for it, even if its production is but a showcase for the difficulties inherit with independent filmmaking.
For battling drink, depression and suicidal tendencies, Mario is a lost soul sleep walking his way through life at the end of lonely street. Desperate for human contact, he spends his days and nights in the sleazy porno theatres and gay saunas, of a bleak New York City. That is, until he chances upon the alluring, if somewhat secretive Gabrielle who sees in him the same psychic ability as hers. Only whereas Gabrielle views her "special powers" as a gift; to Mario his life has become cursed by a series of chilling visions of the brutal dying moments of murder victims. Having given up on his psychologist for help and with the police more than suspicious of his inside knowledge of the crimes, the two team up to try to save the life of the latest victim to be. Only have they foreseen the consequences of their actions?
Made over the course of three years, finished with a different director and produced on an almost zero budget, this haunting thriller marks yet another prime example of filmmaking outside the studio system. And what it lacks in slick Hollywood style production values, it more than makes up with suspense, as writer and star of the show Charles Casillo has delivered a moody supernatural "nothing is what it seems" murder mystery, based on his seemingly random face-to-face meandering dialogue with the principal players, even if in retrospect, some of the lines are anything but.
That the result could be described as "Hitchcock on a shoestring," is all but obvious, full as-it-is of neo-noir atmosphere, a beautiful woman that you know is just too good to be true and a flashback driven storyline that whilst a slow burner at first, is guaranteed to gather speed in the end reel. Yet and unlike Ian Powell's perturbing homoerotic thriller Seeing Heaven, here the homosexual angle of the piece is reduced to a subplot. Thankfully the cast revel in the many twists and turns to be had, leaving Casillo to take to the spotlight with his sharp character study of a tormented soul, that of a religious man driven to the edge by his horrific visions of bloodshed.
The Eyes of Laura Mars, this is not. But as an example of what can be achieved on a cinematic shoestring, Casillo and Co should stand proud. As too should the cast of relatively unknown faces, who deliver solid work throughout. All of which makes you wonder just what the boys could have produced, had they been given a bigger budget? Or even a budget, full stop.
starring: Charles Casillo / Mario, Dana Perry / Gabrielle - Anna, Ian Tomaschik / Dr Justin Avery, Paul Coughlan /
Detective Devlin, Ian MacRae / Stranger - Nick, Hugh Daly / Priest, Stephan Geras /Russell, Jonathan Ledee /
Hotel Hustler, Adam Kane / Hotel Killer, Frank Holliday / Man in the Steam Room, Karissa Anne
Nemeth / Waitress, Robert Newton / Hotel Clerk, Arlene Sparaco / Woman at the Bar
and Stephen Orsetti as the Steam Room Voyeur.