CAST:

Trevor: Andras Jones
Douglas: Seth Green
Dr. Ek: Jeffrey Combs
Dr. Thalama: Wendy Robie
Dr. Coffee: Ted Raimi
Faith: Beth Bates
Amy:Hart Cleary
Sam: Alice Cooper

Directed by Jeremy Kasten
Screenplay Rogan Russell Marshall
Producers Daniel Gold, Melissa Balin, Dan Griffiths

a TseTsefly Production (2000)

 

 


 
A Dream within a Nightmare
by Nicole Rebsher

 
 

How would you react if you woke up one morning in a hospital and an amicable psychiatrist tells you that you've killed your fiancée, but can't remember it after you have laid in a coma for 5 years? Understandably Trevor Blackburn (Andras Jones) is shocked by this revelation. He's sent to the asylum of  Dr. Abbey Thalama (Wendie Robie). The "House of Love", as it is called, resembles more a new age community -- with colorful furniture, open doors and group meetings in the afternoon -- than a place to cure insane criminals. At the beginning, Trevor gets along well with the other patients (didn't he ever got suspicious that a murderer can walk around freely like this?), not knowing that the psychiatrists Dr. Ek (ex-Re-Animator Jeffrey Combs in one of his best roles) and Dr. Coffee (the hilarious Ted Raimi from "Xena") are watching each of his steps by hidden video cameras. Soon Trevor starts to have horrible nightmares about a brain operation and a mysterious trunk in the attic hiding the entrance to a secret chamber. In these dreams, Trevor sees himself tied up to a pentagram while his fiancée is reciting occult words from an ancient book. These surreal scenes are disturbing and fascinating at the same time, and repeat each other with slight modifications throughout the whole movie. One by one the audience can put the pieces of this mysterious puzzle together. Apparently, Ek and Coffee are manipulating Trevor by drugs and lies in order to get hold of the powerful magic book. But just when you think that you understand what's going on, the story suddenly turns in a new, surprising direction: one by one the other patients of the asylum get killed. Is it possible that Trevor's dead fiancée Faith (Beth Bates) is trying to make him keep his promise of eternal fidelity by killing him? Finally only the freaky Douglas ("Buffy" star Seth Green in a very cool role) is there to join Trevor in a final expedition to the attic or should I say into the depths of his own mind? The lines between reality and madness are fading away...

"... This movie is sort of a doppelgaenger; it twists and turns in on itself, a snake biting in its own tail, and it's hard to know what's real. There are probably about three or four ways that you could look at that movie; to say whether it happens over a five year period or a five second period or a nanosecond [...]. It just is a very complex twisting, turning movie, that really does not lend itself to logic. It's more like how your dreams are: they don't make sense, they are images, sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're scary, sometimes they repeat themselves. What's probably the closest thing is a very long vivid dream."

(Jeffrey Combs)

So, what are "The Attic Expeditions" like? This is really hard to tell because of its very unique style. The movie of which it reminds me the most is Roman Polanski's "The Tenant" (What? You haven't seen this masterpiece of surreal cinema yet? Then go and get it at the video store tonight!). In both movies, the main character seems to be a victim of a conspiracy, but towards the end there is more and more evidence that we are seeing nothing more than manifestations of a paranoid, deranged mind. But still there remain doubts about what is real or not. This uncertainty creates fear; the movie is scary without having to rely on monsters or ghosts. Instead, very common fears come to life: A hand that suddenly grabs you out of an empty trunk and drags you inside, waking up during a brain operation, or hearing footsteps from the attic at night.

In all these moments, Trevor is not in control of the situation. Instead he is locked in, tied up or chased by a mad murderer. He tries to find out what's happening, but others are pulling the strings. Maybe that's why Andras Jones' characters remains a bit pale throughout the story, especially in contrast to the outstanding performances of Green, Combs and Raimi. Apart from their acting talent, these three are the ones with the juicy roles, the cool dialogue and the eye-catching outfits. How could one not get distracted by Seth Green's orange hair, when he walks in a light blue corridor? By the way, colors and light play an important role in creating the atmosphere in this movie. We have cold and bright blue in the hospital scenes, cheerful orange and pink in the living room of the "House of Love", and the warm black & red of classical horror movies in the secret chamber. In some scenes, the time course was altered by using very short cuts and timelapse effects, which supported the surreal and dreamlike atmosphere. In the end, the surprising ending leaves the audience puzzled and disturbed in their seats, and many spectators will certainly watch this fascinating movie for a second time, to explore all its depths and layers - including me!
 

 
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