Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2009 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // July 17th, 2009
Revenge Can Be Deadly.
Second Coming tells the story of twins (both played by Juliet Reeves, Automaton Transfusion) who have a special connection. When one sister feels an emotion, so does the other. Now that they're grown up, one sister has moved away from their small town, while the other stayed. Now the one who moved away is having strange visions that her sister is in trouble, and she must return to her hometown to discover her sister's fate.
Although it's not obvious from the fairly ambitious plot summary, Second Coming is an ultra-low budget thriller shot on the cheap in Florida. Like the vast majority of low-budget films, it can't compete with typical Hollywood thrillers in terms of budget and star power, but here's how it stacks up in the three key areas that indie films can compete in:
In terms of the typical independent horror/thriller, Second Coming fails miserably. There's almost no gore to speak of. Instead, we get spooky scenes and creepy images. Those, however, are fantastic. The makeup and effects look amazing, especially given the low, low budget. Still, it's hard to justify watching Second Coming for the effects, since they're basically a riff on the wet- and longhaired young woman scares of The Ring and similar ilk.
Here the film fails miserably. There's a repeated flashback sex scene, but it's all very modest with either a sheet covering everything or shots of a bare back. I don't think the lack of nudity hurts the film, but for those who go to indie films because they often show what Hollywood won't will be disappointed by Second Coming.
This is the most elusive category. Hollywood films often give audiences dependable formulas and familiar stock characters. Because of the low budget, indie films can break some of those formulas and give us new characters. Although it offers a pretty decent twist at the end, Second Coming also fails to offer up anything particularly new here either. Everything initially seems fine with the combination of twins and a relatively obscure medical condition (tinnitus), but the plot fails on a couple of levels. First, the movie is split into two halves. In the first we discover what happened to the sister in the vision, and in the second we see a revenge plot against the killer. The problem is that the "mystery" of the first half isn't particularly mysterious, since we have a pretty good idea of what happened within the first 10 minutes. The more compelling part, the revenge story, gets short shrift because the film spends so much time on the "mystery." If it had spent more time on the revenge aspect of the story, Second Coming would have been more successful. Second, the film sounds really good on paper, but too many of the scenes are flat when they occur on scene. There are simply too many scenes of a character walking somewhere, obviously in psychological torment, that really have no payoff for the audience. I say "obviously in psychological torment" because these scenes usually occur after a revelation, not because the scenes themselves convey any real ideas about the characters. These scenes make Second Coming lose serious momentum and make finishing it a chore.
All is not lost with the film, however. The acting is way above par for this level of production, and the film looks simply amazing considering its $20,000 budget. I've seen broadcast TV movies that looked less good than Second Coming. I grew up in a similar area of Florida, and the way Second Coming was shot made me homesick.
On the DVD front, there's also little to complain about. The video transfer certainly does the cinematography justice, and there are no significant compression problems to speak of. The 5.1 audio doesn't leap out like the picture, but it's a solid mix that keeps the dialogue audible. The main extra is an audio commentary with writer/director/cinematographer Jose Zambrano Cassella. His track has some interesting insights into the film's production, even if he spends a little too much time narrating what's happening. There's also some behind-the-scenes video, a photo gallery, a short film by the same director, and a tinnitus PSA to round out the disc.
Should the average psychological thriller fan watch Second Coming? Probably not, because the story doesn't pay off the excellent visuals and acting. However, anyone looking to make a low-budget film should buy this disc. Filmmakers can learn something from Cassella's bag of tricks, and independent studios should be looking to hire this guy for their next feature.
As a psychological thriller, Second Coming is guilty of being a little too shallow.
Review content copyright © 2009 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Short Film
* Photo Gallery