Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Now THIS was an interesting film. Remember that old TV show ‘Night Gallery’? You young’uns wouldn’t know anything about that because it was before your time but ‘Night Gallery’ was a Rod Serling produced show back in the 1970’s that were like little horror shorts and this film, ‘Killing Ariel’, had a ‘Night Gallery’ feel to it. This isn’t a bad thing, especially since the majority of the movie takes place in the 1970’s and though I don’t remember a hell of a lot about the 70’s, I remember enough to know that these guys nailed down the television look and feel of that time with this film.

The film starts in the 1930’s were little Ricky is hearing some ruckus in the next room as it sounds like his parents are having a pretty explosive argument. Explosive indeed because the next thing little Ricky hears is a shotgun blast and when he enters his parents room he sees his dad lying dead in his wheelchair and his mom with the shotgun in her mouth. When mom pulls the trigger Ricky sees some Demon looking dude standing next to her. Note that this Demon is played by an actor named Joseph Gatt who is tall, lanky, muscular, angular, bald, hairless and very demonic looking… and I don’t think they had to put any make-up on my man to make him look like that. The filmmakers might have originally been thinking they may have to resort to CGI to get this effect, then this guy walks into the casting interview. Outstanding. So this demon chases Ricky around for a bit who ends up hiding out in a closet and is eventually found by his grandparents and life goes merrily on.

Some forty years later Rick is a married father of two carrying on with life as per usual and seemingly recovered from his tragic childhood when that damn demon appears out of nowhere. This demon’s appearance seems to coincide with Rick going through a mid-life crisis as he buys himself an expensive sports car, despite his wife’s request to the contrary, starts working out and even meets a pretty young girl. This woman, Ariel

(Axelle Grelet), is quite the precocious little hottie full of spunk, vigor and terminally horny which seems to suit the adulterous Rick (or anybody for that matter) just fine, that is until strange stuff starts happening once this torrid affair gets underway. Of course it doesn’t help the situation that Rick takes Ariel to the house of his childhood tragedy to get on down, like they didn’t have motels or something in the 70’s, and this particular location is where the demon presence is most strong. As a matter of fact it’s looking like Ariel could very well be a demon herself, which is why killing Ariel becomes such a priority in Rick’s life. But it’s much easier said than done because this particular hottie, for whatever reason, just won’t stay dead.

Now I don’t know quite what to make out of ‘Killing Ariel’ as it was certainly fascinating enough in that I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time watching it, and it had very interesting premise. I suppose there was the ‘twist’ at the end but I pretty much figured out what Rick’s deal was about halfway through so I’m not sure if the twist was setup correctly to be this clever reveal. If so the filmmakers didn’t hide it well enough or I’m some kind of a freaking genius, and I ain’t never been called no genius. As I said earlier I definitely liked the whole ‘look’ of the film. Certain films portend to take place at a certain time and just look like some movie filmed yesterday with folks wearing afro’s and bouffant hair do’s, but ‘Killing Ariel’ really did look like and old 1970 style TV show. I halfway expected Mannix to roll out of the bushes and start shooting people it looked so authentic to me.

Despite all the things Directors Fred Calvert and Daniel J. Negron Jr. did well in this movie it still felt like something was missing from the narrative. I don’t know if was the fact the story straddled the line between psychological thriller and outright horror and as such ended up being neither? I’m not quite sure. To that end, though ‘Killing Ariel’ had its spooky and eerie moments, it was never really scary and the narrative wasn’t sharp enough to for me to rate it high as psychological thriller either, though it did have plenty psychological elements.

Michael Brainard was solid in the lead as the average everyman Rick, but not overly spectacular in the role, and Axelle Grelet was very good in the role as the quirky Ariel… I guess. Because she’s so damn good looking and spent a good portion of the movie naked it’s possible that I might have overlooked some flaws in her performance. Possible, but unlikely.

Overall however I thought that ‘Killing Ariel’ was a good looking film and a very interesting film with some nice concepts. The narrative was a bit unfocused but nearly not enough to ruin a pretty darn good movie. Rod Serling would be proud.

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