Film Review – Ekimmu: The Dead Lust
– by Chris Barnes
When you hear of an independent filmmaker’s running battle with the most serious of illnesses moments before you press play and begin critiquing his work, it can be a little daunting – DAMN YOU, SENTIMENTALITY!!! “How do you tell a living, breathing, medical inspiration you think his film is shite?!” (Psychologically I tend to catastrophize a lot…something us therapists should know a thing or two about)
Ekimmu: The Dead Lust follows Mike (Ethan Hoyt) and Beth (Chloe Francis) as they make a pitstop in the unassuming town of Briar Creek, only to discover a mysterious, bloodied young woman at the roadside. When Beth and the girl (Carissa Becker, who looks a lot like a mini Heather Langenkamp!) eventually find they are somehow connected, strange things begin to happen and it’s only a matter of time before a dark sense of terrible inevitability descends. The answers to their dark puzzle, it seems, can only be found where their sins are buried.
It won’t take long before gorehounds and throwback junkies are drawn into Ekimmu via a clever pre-title mix of sexy, bloodied goatgirl, demonic, distorted voice overs and jarring sound design – it’s an unholy, gritty combination that sets the theme confidently and hints a certain Sam Raimi cabin-based classic was a heavy influence; from a laughing, mounted animal head, to an Ash-like lead and a characterful car. In fact, there’s even a light-hearted scene of man gifting woman a necklace, surrounded by wooden walls, thrown in for good measure.
The opening third’s sepia tones, controlled, sweeping camerawork and slick editing are impressive, helping to pace everything just right and allow the film’s few characters to be introduced naturally – the strange Hank (Brian Jones) a particular highlight. However, once Ekimmu’s scene is set, the sense of impending doom and unnerving griminess unfortunately drifts away somewhat, meaning the middle 20-minutes or so feels diluted and knocks us off course slightly while trying to express its twisting narrative… which is a shame as I’d already started scouring my soiled skin with bleach. Having said that, although some of the dialogue-heavy scenes drag a little due to acting missteps, the script itself is a solid one and thankfully doesn’t iron out every inch of ambiguity; making for an unexpectedly thoughtful experience.
Plus, sexy, satanic goatgirl (Nina Tomica) keeps popping up occasionally! “Eww! Isn’t she horrible?!”, I lie to my wife each time.
The fact Ekimmu seems most comfortable during the earlier, more experimental phase suggests Koontz is better suited to a faster, choppier editing style and the final third does make strides to regain the earlier confidence – the highpoint coming in the form of clever contrast between a dramatic wide shot of peaceful countryside and the frenzied feasting of fanged feral females.
The director’s choice of angles and POV shots are genuinely impressive and really pitch the viewer into the action, particularly a reoccurring, powerful stab scene (the fact I enjoyed it may be another issue for a fellow therapist). Add to this the aforementioned excellent sound design and a criminally under-used, sexy, demonic goatgirl (did I mention her already?) and you’ve got yourself a nifty debut feature by a filmmaker who has overcome astronomical obstacles to present us with a smart 80-mins that was 14 years in the making.
Phew! Negative-review- awkwardness averted!
“Never give up, it’s worth the fight!” – Andy Koontz.
It is, indeed.
– Chris Barnes (@BlueTook)