Manic Monday scared the BLEEP out of me!

Last night I had the chance to experience one of the most mind-blowing horror films I've seen in a long time; I was invited to a test screening of, Manic Monday, and  I am still reeling.

To try and explain this movie is kind of like trying to sum up the history of the world - it's complicated, to say the least.

Let me give it a shot.

Peter and Miranda Gamble (Jeremy Winston and Elaine Barstow) and their young daughter, Heather (the impish, Melissa Jost) are an average middle class family living in a small suburban enclave.  Their lives revolve around jobs, schools, the PTA and all of the other quotidian concerns of  a middle American existence.  And then, one afternoon, Heather finds an old Ouija board in her parent's bedroom, and quicker than you can say "Captain Howdy", things get crazy.

But crazy might be an understatement.  You want Satanic conspiracies, demonic possessions, poltergeist activity, slashers, Armageddon, psycho-sexual time warps, and, even, a big musical number?  Well then, Manic Monday has got you covered.

First time film director (and script scribe), Dex Baxter has pulled out all of the stops for his maiden cinematic voyage and incredibly, it all works!  Of course,  the crazed pace of this movie  might leave viewers pondering exactly what they had just seen - for instance: about halfway through the film there is a scene where Miranda comes into the kitchen and finds her daughter in a sleep walking state, her left hand reaching into a grinding garbage disposal.  Just as it seems evident that the little tyke is about to lose her limb, her mother pulls her free - you could hear the collective gasp in the audience at this moment. Oddly enough, after the film was over, I talked to six other people and every one of them mentioned how intense that scene was, but  told it in wildly varied ways, it was as if the film maker had managed to tap into our own fears and make them warp the memory of what we just saw (incidentally, once this scene is over, you'll never be able to listen to Aerosmith's Dream On again).

If Manic Monday has one stand out performance, it's Tom Houston who plays the uber creepy, Ezekiel Smit.  Houston, who has apparently appeared in numerous stage productions, manages to create an on screen character that one minute is dripping charm and class, and the next is scaring the holy hell out of you.  I honestly believe that Mr. Houston gave an Oscar worthy performance here, of course we all know how the Academy likes to ignore horror films, so hopefully this vastly talented man will get his chance in a mainstream film soon.
The rest of the cast is aces as well - I was so moved by Winston and Barstow's performances as two ordinary people who suddenly find themselves in such a horrific situation it'll make your teeth rattle that I was almost moved to tears.   Also, Mary Johnson, who play's a pediatrician, brings such subtle grace and warmth to the role, you almost forget for  a second that you are watching a movie, and actually believe that she is a caring doctor who puts her patients before her own needs (later on, when she comes face to face with a demonically possessed sales clerk, Kathleen Turner in an uncredited cameo, her screams of terror will haunt your dreams for days to come).   Finally, young Melissa Jost is fantastic in her role as the youngest member of the Gamble clan.  One does not  usually see acting of this caliber from a child, If this any indication then Ms. Jost is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
A word of warning, Manic Monday is the kind of movie that gets under your skin ... and then festers.  Honestly, I have not been able to stop thinking about this film since I got home last night.  And, do you want to know the truth?  I actually slept with the lights on - something I have not done since I first saw Night of the Living Dead when I was 12 years old; yes, that's how powerful and terrifying this movie is.

For whatever the reason, it was explained (before the screening) that the studio was keeping a very tight  lid on this one.  We were given a handful of stills to use for review purposes, and a couple of brief press releases and that was about it.  Strangely enough, the film is only going in to release  on an extremely limited run starting today.  New York City and L.A. look like they might be showing this at a handful of theaters - but when this one goes into wide distribution,  I think we are going to see the kind of hoopla not seen for a horror film since, well, since The Exorcist.


senski said...

Glad you got to see this, too, Pax. No question - it's a stunner.

Te* (Slasher Film Sanctuary) said...

This.......makes me want to break into song!

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it were Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
My I don't have to runday
It's just another manic Monday

- This film sounds really interesting. I'm totally jealous! ;P

iasa said...

you had me at big musical number