Genius Products // 2007 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 1st, 2008
You can't bury the truth.
What would you do if you felt the presence of your dead twin sister wandering around the woods of Louisiana? If you said "ask the cashier at the local general store to cough up a Creole spell and try and summon her," then you and this movie are on the same wavelength!
There's this girl named Megan (Elisabeth Harnois) and she's in full emotional recuperation mood after suffering through the shocking suicide of her twin sister. To bounce back, she heads down to her family home on the Louisiana bayou with her college friends, intent on drinking her worries away.
But she can't escape the heebie-jeebies that follow her down. With the Summer Solstice around the corner and superstition and supernatural tomfoolery filling the atmosphere, crazy things start to happen to Megan. She feels her sister's presence and is convinced she's trying to communicate with her from the other side.
To hurry along the process, Megan enlists the help of a guy she meets at a grocery store (Tyler Hoechin) who seems to know a thing or two about creepy-ass mojo. After an aborted séance, the mystical goings-on increase in velocity and -- as you would expect -- weird ghost girls start popping up everywhere.
Solstice does a lot of things right but its slow pace may be too much for impatient horror aficionados to bear.
From the start you can tell this is a well-executed film, beautifully shot and boasting a professional, capable sheen throughout. Director Dan Myrick knows how to squeeze suspense out of his scenes and the use of sound to build the tension is above-average. Plus, he's got a good crop of young actors to do his bidding and everyone is up to the challenge. In short, I'd say it's a better film than most of the other psychological terror flicks featuring a row of attractive twenty-somethings looking serious on the front of the disc case.
But the first two-thirds are dragged out too long. The pivotal séance sequence doesn't happen until the 55 minute mark, and that's finally when Solstice finds its legs. The nuttiness picks up in intensity and velocity at that point and there are a handful of nifty shock moments included, but, frankly, the build-up is too drawn out. In the 50-odd minutes that precede this scene, you can expect a lot of red herrings and false starts.
Will the final third salvage the film? It's close, but I think so. The pacing picks up significantly enough and the storyline -- to that point a derivative blend of talking-to-the-dead clichés -- hits a great twist and proceeds in a nifty new direction. Maybe more eagle-eyed viewers will see the plot turnaround coming, but I was caught off-guard and enjoyed it.
The horror elements are what you'd expect for a PG-13 yarn. There's a cool hit-and-run shot, but the majority of the scares come from jump scenes and the go-to plot device of the scary little girl. Simple, familiar, but effective. And the suspense in the final ten minutes is authentically tense.
Sporting a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Solstice is a solid-looking film, clean, clear and colorful, with a nice use of scene-specific filters. For audio, the 5.1 Dolby Digital mix uses the slick sound design well. The only extra is an audio commentary by Myrick.
Not too shabby, this. Worth a look if you're in the mood for a functional PG-13 terror tale.
Not guilty. Court adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13