Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The year is nineteen thirty-something in writer /director David A. Cross’s movie ‘Respire’ and we introduced to Dr. Kaminsky (Timothy Dykes) who is all in a tizzy. He rushes home trying to get out of town, but it’s too late because The Guy is at his house. Who’s the guy? You’ll find out later. So the Doc hides his wife away, tries to reason with this guy who greets his reasoning skills with a bullet to chest and then runs off. The wife comforts her dying husband and then just before he expires, she gives him a blue liquid from this wood container, followed by a convulsion then followed by the wife putting a test tube under his nose to capture what I imagine is his life force or something. What’s up with that? And how did she know which nostril to use?

What follows is a really cool opening credits sequence which follows the journey of this box through World War II, to the fifties, to the drug induced the sixties, through the disco seventies until the box eventually ends up in the possession of curio shop operator Susan Jordan (Tracy Teague). Susan isn’t doing too well at this point and time in her life. She’s suffering from what I guess is Leukemia and her doctor has told she has only a few months to live. She’s a little surly, she’s all alone… probably because she’s surly, and her only friend is Nina (Jessica Carver) the little ugly girl that works with her in the store. Nina’s not really ugly but there are these assholes that come into the store and call her ugly. They’re gonna die.

Then Raif (Matthew J. Wright) walks into the store looking to buy the box, which was listed on an on-line auction, and he also contracted Susan to bid on a live auction item for him. This sudden interest in the box got Susan a little curious which led her to Dr. Kaminsky and his research. This led to Susan acquiring this auction item on her own, opening the box and seeing the test tube inside which she subsequently inhaled. Clearly we could observe Dr. Kaminsky’s life force flowing inside of Susan, but what does this mean. Well, it’s complicated, mighty complicated, but in essence Susan is cured. Something to do with Ancient Romans and complex formulas and stuff.

That’s great, right? Well, not so much. You see there’s Alex (Vince Eustace) and his hot girlfriend Ruby (Ellie Torrez) and they wanted this box pretty badly, and they are not happy. Raif wanted this box pretty badly as well, but he isn’t quite as unhappy. Then there are the occasional blackouts, the sudden need to sketch, write complex formulas… oh… and the sudden urge to KILL! Without getting too much into it, when you snort somebody’s life force, you’re snorting everything about them, so while it does cure your ills, if this person was say… I don’t know… a mass murderer, then so are you. For the most part at least because the mentally strong can fight it, unless you enjoy being a mass murderer. You’d be surprised how many people enjoy being a mass murderer.

The thing is the doctor hid a bunch of these psycho life force vials and they need to be destroyed because if they are released… it will not be good for this town of wherever. Plus not everybody is who they seem to be. I don’t want to spoil anything but if the National Guard shows up in your town wearing yellow airtight suits and carrying machine guns… it’s not a good thing.

I have to say I was somewhat surprised at the effectiveness of David A. Cross’s film ‘Respire’. Obviously a lower budgeted horror / thriller but with the clever use of some dramatic lighting over here and a little creativity over there, not to mention having a technician on set who knows how to properly stick swords through somebody’s skull and make it look real, we have a low budget movie we can work with.

The performances that Cross coaxed out his cast of actors were earnest if not up to the levels that we accustomed to in some of the movies we’ve seen. Tracy Teague was solid as our leading lady, but while Vince Eustace as our pony tailed sporting Alexander Poe certainly has the look down, he hasn’t quite mastered that whole acting thing yet. But like I always say, having the look is half the battle when it comes to movies. You can learn how to act, you can’t learn how to look good. Matthew J. Wright on the other hand was pretty damned engaging and charming as Raif the… well we don’t want to spoil anything, but the boy seemed to be having a good time with the part and he looks to have a future with this acting thing if he so chooses.

I guess other thing that surprised me about ‘Respire’ was how doggoned violent it was. I wasn’t really expecting it, plus low budget movies have a hard time pulling this off so most don’t even try, but this one was pretty effective with its effects and gore content. For those of you who like that kind of thing. And we always enjoy it when an entire town gets zombiefied and goes nuts.

True enough, ‘Respire’ has its challenges. It’s a little unwieldy at times, the focus of our characters got a little confusing on occasion, the concept of snorting Ghost Smack was a slightly wacky and probably overly complicated… but we still enjoyed it. It’s always a good thing going into something not knowing what to expect, and then coming out pleasantly surprised.

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