Donovan’s Echo DVD Review (Kirk Haviland)

Donovan’s Echo DVD Review

Starring Danny Glover, Bruce Greenwood, Natasha Calis, and Sonja Bennett

Written by Jim Cliffe and Melody Krieger

Directed by Jim Cliffe

Out this week, an exclusive release from Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada, is the Canadian production Donovan’s Echo. After a run on the festival circuit that included stops in Calgary and Edmonton, Donovan’s Echo, the Danny Glover semi-supernatural thriller is now available to take home. But is it something you need to buy, rent or pass on?

Set in 1994, Donovan Matheson (Glover) returns home after a 30 year absence to discover events from his past are replaying out with astonishing accuracy. Plagued by the idea of déjà vu, Donovan is convinced his young neighbour Maggie (Calis) and her mother Sarah (Bennett) will be killed on the 30th anniversary of his own wife and daughter’s death. Struggling to unlock the pattern, Donovan tries to convince his brother-in-law, Deputy Police Chief Finnley (Bruce Greenwood), to help prevent a similar tragedy but to no avail. When the facts don’t add up, Donovan’s sanity is questioned and he ends up scaring Maggie and Sarah with his wild antics. But as Finnley digs deeper will he find that Donovan is right and save the girls in time?

Sadly, Donovan’s Echo is a lot more like bad TV melodrama than sci-fi thrill ride. The script is predictable for the most part, with most of the more important parts of the narrative spelled out bluntly so that the audience isn’t confused. I really would have liked a little mystery/confusion, but instead Donovan’s plays it strictly by the numbers. The performances are fine, Glover is solid when not overselling it towards the end, but all of them have done better work before, with Calis currently doing excellent work in The Possession in theaters now. Greenwood is good here but the script has him spouting lines that simply feel awkward. The ending plays out exactly as you would expect, with the suspect in question being obvious from the beginning, and tacks on a goofy “present day” sequence that is laughably bad. Director Cliffe’s script may have been flawed but his eye for detail behind the camera is solid as the setting is quite splendidly realized throughout the film.

The DVD contains little additional material as we get a short behind the scenes featurette, a theatrical trailer and a Director/Producer commentary track. The behind the scenes featurette does little to sell me any more on the film. The disc does seem to have a different audio level between the film presentation and the featurette, but I was seeing this on a test disc and it may be corrected before the final authoring.

In the end Donovan’s Echo didn’t win me over completely but there was enough for me to stick with it through the entire film. Though not enough to allow me to give any more than a mild non-recommend, Donovan’s could be a decent inoffensive rental on a hot September night.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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The Possession Review (Kirk Haviland)

The Possession (2012)

Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport, Natasha Calis, Grant Show, Matisyahu

Written by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White

Directed by Ole Bornedal

Late August has long been a staple for horror film releases, and also a dumping ground for lacklustre fare like last week’s The Apparition. Trying to buck the trend this year is the newest releases from Alliance Films, The Possession. Produced by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures, The Possession was an idea Raimi had been pursuing for years, now finally coming to realization through director Bornedal. Featuring a fantastic poster and creepy trailer, the question remains, does The Possession deliver on its promise?

Supposedly based on a true story, The Possession is the terrifying story of how one family must unite in order to survive the wrath of an unspeakable evil. Clyde (Dean Morgan) and his recently divorced ex-wife Stephanie (Sedgwick) see little cause for alarm when their youngest daughter Em (Calis) becomes oddly obsessed with an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale. At first chalking the shift in behaviour to the divorce, Clyde starts to sense there may be something more as Em’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Unable to convince Stephanie and new boyfriend Brett (Show) or his eldest daughter Hannah (Davenport) that there is something wrong, Clyde sets out to discover what is happening on his own. Clyde fears that there is a malevolent force in their midst, only to discover that the box was built to contain a dibbuk, a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host, and this dibbuk happens to prey on the young and innocent.

The Possession starts out strong. A particularly effective scene of a woman as she tries to destroy the box and the nasty comeuppance which that act brings. Sadly all the good work here is squandered by the end of the film. The script is tight until the lunacy of the final act. Inventive and daring, although perhaps relying a little too much on computer generated imagery, the film drives along at a sharp pace, not leaving copious amounts of time to catch your breath, but still taking enough time to explain and delve into the characters. The lead cast deliver good performances, especially Dean Morgan as the perplexed and devoted father, and Calis as the object of the possession. Calis will be one to watch as her performance here is seasoned well beyond her years on the planet, excellent work.

Now to the disappointment, The Possession falls apart in the last 20 minutes due to poor choices and poor script work. The ending is truly awful and leaves a sour taste in your mouth as you exit the cinema. The CGI is clumsy and a particular CGI creation is just simply the wrong decision. Everything gets wrapped up nicely, complete with a nice little bow on top, except the box moves on, in a completely predictable and underwhelming final couple of minutes. The CGI in the film works quite well for about 90% of the production. A lot of the gags involving Calis work like a charm, it’s just too bad the commercials/trailers ruined most of those moments.

Definitely not the least successful genre film in the multiplex right now, The Possession works for most of the film as a taught piece of horror, but the last 20 minutes waste all the positive work. The Possession is a very mild recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films and festivals in Toronto.

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