Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So it came to my attention this movie the ‘The Other Side’ is a good flick.  I check out the description and it sure sounds cool, but heaven knows that I’ve read some cool synopsis (what is the plural of that word I wonder) only to be incredibly disappointed. There’s even the occasional proclamation on the IMDB that this is the ‘BEST FILM EVER’, but you can probably find that proclamation for about any film listed if you dig deep enough.  But I’m not special or unique, nor am I anywhere close to what could be called a film snob and if I can sit through ‘Delta Farce’ I’m sure I can sit through just about anything.  So I watch ‘The Other Side’ and while it’s not THE BEST FILM EVER, it is still very good.  But only after watching it did I find out that Atlanta based director Gregg Bishop shot his film for a reported fifteen thousand dollars.  Now I’m not gonna call my man a liar, but I have my doubts about that, especially since he shot this on 16mm and not DV, but if he says he shot it for fifteen large, then I’m going to roll with it.  And if it is true that Gregg Bishop made this film for fifteen grand then damn, this is the BEST FILM EVER,  made for fifteen grand at least.

Sam (Nathan Mobley) and Hannah (Jamie Alexander) are young and in love.  Sam has just graduated from some Ivy League school and is coming back home to start the next stage of his life with his cherished fiancé.   Something very bad happens when Sam, while waiting for his girl at their spot, is rammed off the road into a lake.  After Sam wakes up from what seems to be a nightmare consisting of demons and damnation he finds himself in a hospital bed with his good friend and cop Peter (Stephen Caudill) telling him that Hannah is missing and it looks like he’s a suspect.  Also in this hospital are a group of other people, originally thought to be dead, that have awakened and are on the run. But from what?  From agroup of Satanic agents known as The Reapers who retrieve individuals who have escaped from hell and brutally escort them back.  That's what.  That would include our hero Sam by the way.

Two of the escapees, Mally (Cory Rouse) and Oz (Poncho Hodges) grab Sam, inform him of his dire plight, and escape out into the world in hopes avoiding the relentless reapers.  Sam though only wants to find out what has become of his beloved and in the hope of eventually being redeemed from hell, Mally and Oz tag along to hopefully assist in saving Hannah from whatever fate may await her.  We do question why was the angelic Sam was sent to hell in the first place and why anyone would want to kill the boy, but all in good time friends.  With the reapers closing in, a conspiracy afoot, and his girl’s life is in the balance will Sam be able to use all that high falutin’ Ivy League edumication to solve this dilemma?  All in good time friends.  All in good time.

Initially when I slipped in the disk for this one, its humble origins were unknown to me.  The Sony logo comes up, which means nothing (Attack Force!), and the films starts.  The first thing one will notice is the grainy, relatively low budget feel of the 16mm films stock which did emit a slight ‘uh oh’ from my mouth but as it turns out there was little to worry about.  Director Bishop has obviously seen a few movies in his day, not because he’s stealing from other films to create this one, though one could argue he did borrow liberally from various sources, but because he knows that people who like these kinds of films don’t like to sit around too long before something happens.  We meet Sam, we meet Hannah we find out they really love each other and then it’s pretty much helter skelter for the next 80 or so minutes.  The filmmakers here have a fine eye for action sequences as there is enough running, shooting, screaming, driving, dying and bloody goo for a couple of movies and it is all framed around a very solid narrative which we are spoon fed in bits pieces and is it so happens is fairly masterful in its presentation.

Bishop handles his cast of relative unknowns fairly well as even the comic relief guy, Malley, manages to actually be funny.  Star Nathan Mobley is solid considering he has to carry a lot of the film and I thought the special effects were very good, and this was before I knew what this thing reportedly cost to make.  Not to say that ‘The Other Side’ is perfect as there are some continuity glitches that rear its ugly head here and there, and though the story is a good one, it is the kind of story that if you back track after it’s over, will invariably leave you asking questions for which there can be no rational answers.

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations” is a quote I often use from Orson Welles because the lack of resources really does force creative action.  ‘The Other Side’ will certainly open a couple of pocket books for Gregg Bishop as he continues on his filmmaking career and the question will be can he make a film as good as this one now that many of the limitations he had to deal with in this film will be somewhat lifted?  That remains to be seen.  What is certain is that Gregg Bishop has blown away the grading curve I usually give to all true indie filmmakers because dude has made a very entertaining movie out of next to nothing.  Because of this film, now your film is either good or just sucks.  This cat has taken away everybody’s excuses.

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