Although completed in 2002, “Samhain” has been gathering dust in the film vault awaiting distribution. That’s a bit of a shame, since this inventive mix of porn stars and outrageous gore is a fairly good way to spend an evening. An audacious bit of filmmaking, “Samhain” tries to break through steel walls and for the most part succeeds despite an unimaginative plot.
“Samhain” introduces us to a group of American students who have traveled to Ireland to research the Druids and Celtic legends. They decide to stay at a remote cottage while they conduct their research, unaware that the house’s tranquil appearance belies a horrific secret in the form of a ravenous mutant lurking in the forest nearby. As the cannibal gorges himself on the students, the survivors do what they can to stay that way in this veritable slaughter.
Probably the most shocking thing about “Samhain” is how well porn stars Jenna Jameson and Ginger Lynn Allen act. They do an amazing job of getting under the skin of their characters, and force the audience to empathize with their plight. It may be heresy to say this, but they have far too much thespian talent to be simply porn stars and their true calling may be in feature films. Richard Grieco (“Webs”) doesn’t fare nearly as well. His performance is a paragon of underachievement, and he’s easily upstaged by anyone who’s onscreen with him. It’s been a long time since “21 Jump Street”, but Grieco still acts like he’s a teen idol everyone wants to see, which is hard to do when you’re pushing 40.
Director Christian Viel has a talent for making certain the audience is never bored. There’s plenty of nudity in “Samhain”, as well as a staggering amount of blood and gore. Viel does a great job of building suspense in the scary scenes and provides some stunning cinematography; a killer mutant’s stalking ground has never looked so picturesque. Viel also employs some slick camera angles, making “Samhain” look more expensive than its meager budget. This may have only been his third effort behind the director’s chair, but Viel directs like it’s his thirtieth. Hopefully, he’ll be given a larger budget on a future project, where his directing talents can really shine.
The only problem with “Samhain” is that director Christian Viel probably should have fired the writer, Christian Viel. Despite the copious amounts of gore and nudity, the story is a bit pedestrian and lacks any innovative touches. All in all, it’s still the same tired old plot: kids being stalked in the woods by a bloodthirsty creature. You can put all the blood and T&A you want in the film, but the problem still remains no matter how you try to hide it. On a positive note, the effects work by Adrian Morot is very well done, to the point of almost being nausea inducing. Highly realistic, they sometimes become almost disturbing to watch, and that further enhances the visceral experience.
Despite the repetitive plot, “Samhain” is still a film that’s well done. Hopefully when it finally does achieve release, the distributor will have enough sense to leave the film intact and not destroy it in the editing room. For once, trust the artist’s judgment and not bow to the desire to sell more tickets at the box office.
Christian Viel (director)
CAST: Bobbie Phillips …. Karen Douglas
Mark Borchardt …. Andrew
Ginger Lynn Allen …. Pandora
Richard Grieco …. Mark
Jenna Jameson …. Jenny