Thursday, May 26, 2011

'Purvos' is one to pass over

Purvos (2006)
Starring: Dave Workman, Stephani Heise, Nathan Day, Conrad Brooks, and Natasha Rogers
Director: Jerry Williams
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

When a sleep disorder researcher (Heise) starts finding similarities between the dreams of several patients--including her own ex-lover (Rogers)--she starts to believe there may be a paranormal connection. Her investigation eventually leads her to a deadly confrontation with a serial killer (Workman).

"Purvos" is one of these shot-on-video productions that has amateur written all over it. It's one of those films made with more love than skill, so I find myself hesitating to pan it--and therefore review it.

However, "Purvos" is available both in the "Demented Deviants" and the "Tomb of Terror" DVD multipacks from Pendulum Pictures, and as a stand-alone DVD from Brain Damage Films. Someone other than the filmmakers obviously believes this film is worthwhile, and I can't bring myself to agree with them. So, I feel like warning those who haven't been exposed to it yet.

At its best, "Purvos" rises to the level of solid mediocrity. The camerawork, editing, lighting, any other technical aspect of the film are average for what I've come to expect from filmmaking at this level. In fact, the editing is slightly below average, but I think this stems from a problem with the director rather than the editor, as I more than once had a sense that veteran film actor Conrad Brooks was repeating himself during a scene so the best delivery of a line could be included, but instead the repetition is included in the film.

Where things start getting really bad is the acting. Universally, the acting is of the sort I'd expect to find in a community theatre production, not in a movie. In fact, most of the actors are delivering their lines as if they on a stage. Almost every performance is stiff and unnatural... and, frankly, feel more like they are rehearsals than final, film-ready performances.

Of course, the bad acting may not entirely be the fault of the actors. The film features some pretty awful dialogue. It's not quite the worse I've ever encountered, but it is close. Perhaps if the dialogue had sounded more like the way people talk instead of sounding like it came from the first draft of a story submitted to a fiction workshop.

But the bad dialogue is only part of what drags "Purvos" down from being a standard amateur horror production to being barely worth watching. In fact, the rest of the script makes the bad dialogue seem like it's not that big an issue. We've got bad pacing, badly motivated characters, badly explained or utterly worthless plot elements, and a non-ending that makes no sense anyway you choose to look at it.

I think the most frustrating things about this film is that the two worst elements of the script and the way the film is executed could have been the most interesting parts of the film. There are good ideas somewhere here, but they are so badly executed that it's hard to recognize even their potential.

The worst of the badness is the mad slasher, Uncle Max/Purvos (played by Dave Workman with gusto but not terribly convincing). How/why is his causing nightmares in his niece? Why does he want to kill her? Why is his backstory so damn trite that it would have been best if it had been left out all together? The supernatural tie-in here--manifested by some sort of psychic link between Uncle Max and one of his intended victims--could have been a saving grace for the picture, but it remains mostly unused and it's completely pointless in the overall flow of the picture. (There is a far more plausible path included in the film to involve the film's main character in the events than she's uncovered some sort of pyschic activity.)

The second worst is the character of Professor Jessup (played by Conrad Brooks with... um... I'm not quite sure with what, but something involving 80-proof comes to mind). In the first place, his character is a worth appendage to the film, almost as if it was inserted after what passes for the script was written and someone said, "Hey... my dad knows Conrad Brooks, and he's going to be in town for the weekend, and he wants to be in our movie!" And, to make matters worse, his character is featured in a nonsensical ending that I'm sure is intended to be some sort of twist. But it's not. It's just bad. Yet, if this part had been better written and more tied to the story of the film, this could have been place to fully develop the supernatural angle of the story.

In final analysis, "Purvos" is a film that's barely worth watching. It's harmless filler in the 50-movie collection "Tomb of Terror", but it's bound to be drag on the value of your movie-watching dollar in the "Demented Deviants" set, and it's certainly not worth whatever the price for the stand-alone DVD is as a purchase or a rental.

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