Tuesday, February 15, 2011

House of Black Wings (2010)

Hello everyone and welcome back!  I just want to start out this time by expressing my appreciation to everyone who has checked out my blog “At the Mansion of Madness”. It has been a blast so far, and I look forward to posting many more reviews for your reading pleasure. “Thank you” to everyone who has taken the time to visit and to all who have followed me on my blog and on Twitter

Today I write to you about a tale of friendship, ghostly possession, and cosmic horror, from a movie written, directed, and produced by David Schmidt of “Sword & Cloak Productions. HOUSE OF BLACK WINGS is a film that I personally believe to be quite an achievement that really goes a long way given the modest resources available to the filmmakers. One of this film’s major strengths is the development that occurs between two interesting and unique lead characters. These being ex rock star Kate Stone, played very convincingly by Leah Myette, and her friend Robyn Huck, a very cute and likable gothic artsy type, portrayed by Katherine Herrera. Needless to say, I developed an attachment to both of these lovely ladies, and I’m sure others have/will as well. 
These two happen to be old college roommates with a strong connection based on a long term friendship they’ve had since before Kate’s brief stint of fame as a musician. An unfortunate incident has resulted in a career downfall that has left Kate completely bitter about her rock star past. She now wants nothing more than to forget everything and start anew with the support and company of her good friend Robyn. With her music career over and nowhere else to turn to, Kate arrives to stay at the Blackwood apartment complex, owned and maintained by Robyn, who inherited the place from her father. While trying to rebuild her life, Kate learns that past demons aren’t so easily forgotten, and to make matters worse, something else is impeding her recovery, something demonic with black wings that seems to come from nightmares that exist between time and space….

Upon arrival to this ancient and cool looking apartment building, Kate finds an abundance of warm hospitality from her friend Robyn who immediately makes her feel at home. Since Kate has hit rock bottom in her life, Robyn lets her stay at Blackwood free of charge in order to help her get back on her feet. It seems that Robyn could also use the extra help, since she would otherwise have to maintain this mansion all by herself. Robyn also seems very lonely as an artist that paints and designs gloomy morbid doll houses (how cool is that?), so the pleasant company from her dear friend is another plus.  

Kate Stone                                                  Robyn Huck

The main premise is that both girls are really just trying to make best with what they have, as Kate tries to put her life back together and Robyn struggles to maintain the old decaying building with most of the tenants leaving and being behind on rent. What it is specifically that happened to result in Kate’s downfall is a tragedy that is explained remarkably well as the story unfolds. The movie really is just as emotional as it is maddening, and although it may seem a bit slow to some, patience and attention are likely to pay off. 
During her stay at the Blackwood apartments, Kate is frequently disturbed by nightmares, the mysterious sound of flapping wings, ghostly whispering in the voice box, slippery things in the dark, and the scuttling of what sounds like RATS IN THE WALLS that did bring to my mind the HP LOVECRAFT tale of the same name. 
Other characters staying at the apartment complex are an unstable and suspicious writer who can usually be heard banging away at a typewriter in his room and a young man with a lot in common with Kate, who could have made a potential love interest if not for his mysterious demise/disappearance. 

The scares in this movie are more on the suggestive and psychological side, with a few gory scenes, as well as several creepy coincidences, such as Kate discovering old decayed sheet music in the house that contains the same music she hears in her nightmares. Both characters eventually realize that they are seriously threatened from something ancient that originates from the house itself, which in a way possesses them and attempts to manifest itself through their artwork.  
They ultimately find themselves trapped in the house in fear for their lives (in an interdimensional sort of way). Do they escape, or do they end up in THE BEYOND?!! Check it out and find out for yourselves. 

After spending the entire movie with Kate and Robyn, they will start to feel like close friends. Even viewers who happen to not buy into the horror elements of the story will likely find themselves enjoying getting to know and spending time with these two and will really start to care a good deal about their safety when the demonic threat permeating the house starts to become more intense. 
HOUSE OF BLACK WINGS is a rather atypical haunted house tale with a good measure of drama and symbolism that elevates it beyond its low budget look and gives viewers good reason to take it seriously. If the horror elements were stripped from the film it would probably still be worth watching since the story involving the lives of the characters is very intriguing. Of course eliminating the horror would be no fun and unnecessary, because it also excels at being a horror film as well. The simple low budget FXs, creepy specters that haunt the house, and the nightmares that plague the characters causes the film to be a lot of fun and takes the edge off some of the more moody parts. The directing from David Schmidt is great and far from amateur, and I hope to enjoy many more offerings from the man in the future. At present his other writing and directing credits include SWORD OF HEARTS, GRAVE INVITATIONS, and THE LOVECRAFT SYNDROME. Information on these titles is available at the aforementioned sword and cloak productions website. 

Both actresses contribute significantly to the movie as well: Leah Myette delivers her lines with style and conviction and basically does a lot acting wise, such as looking genuinely scared, crying on cue, and getting destructively pissed off. Katherine Herrera on the other hand is just too cool as the unique expressive type, with a number of interesting HOT TOPIC LIKE outfits that I would guess are from her own wardrobe. I tried to search the internet to see what other movies she may have been in, but no luck. HOUSE OF BLACK WINGS unfortunately seems to be Herrera’s only acting credit on the IMBD at this time. L 
Guitar Hero Kate!

There is definitely something unique in the feel of the film's soundtrack as well, which includes very moving balled type alternative/rock music that supplements the emotional parts quite nicely. There is one particular song that lends to a great music video like segment at the end of the movie that would likely induce a standing ovation from a theatre audience, while the film transitions to its closing credits. HOUSE OF BLACK WINGS really offers something enjoyable and significant to those fortunate enough to stumble upon it.

"Can't you see?  It's this place...It's feeding us dreams!"--Leah Myette/Kate Stone

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