It's 1976. Beautiful Sydney is living in a secluded wooden cabin with old man Mr. Ben. There is something strong between the two, something that is far beyond a relationship of trust and love. They have a bond that is out of the ordinary and nothing can seperate them from each other. One night Sydney goes out to party and get high with friends, and a few of them will soon experience this special bond.
It has been a long wait to get to watch this film by Michael Todd Schneider ("Michael magGot"). I believe it has been in the making for at least as long as I've known him, which is a bit over two years now. My opinion of his filmmaking has always been swaying from one side to another, because even though all of his films are connected in a sort of magGotism, they are often drastically different. "...And Then I Helped" has taken him far from where he was when he made "I Never Left The White Room" (well, it's been 10 years so that's understood, even though that was re-cut in 2007) and also far from where he was when he made "August Underground's Mordum". It's clear that he has became a much more focused artist and he knows exactly what it is that he wants to make. With "...And Then In Helped" just being one of four films directed by him that are on their way to get finished, I am just waiting for Michael to smash the industry.
Nikki McIntyre plays the lovely Sydney, a free-spirited girl who lives with Mr. Ben (played by Ben Tatar) out in the woods. Sydney and Mr. Ben are dependant on each other, and their relationship is built on something almost unreal. When Sydney goes out to a party one night, she brings playboy Chester with her home and he might be one of many to notice the odd bond these two share. I am keeping this spoiler-free, but I can safely say that this film is so much more than a standard murder tale. I expected a "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" type of film, and while I did get that in many ways, the story evolves constantly into something else, something bigger and something more bizarre.
The style of the film alone makes the film an abnormality of independent horror. It's set in the 70's and is working a look that fits perfectly for the era, but also without being too typical about it. The scratches are luckily few (that's a phenomenon that has gone too far in films now) but the focus is instead on the colors. They look deteriorated and Michael has spent a lot of time to get the look to work. I wouldn't say that it's always convincing that it's an old film, but it succeeds better than most films have and considering some of the things that go on I am willing to say that it's more a 70's tribute that worked well for the experimental purposes rather than to be the sole force that pushes the movie. It's a very experimental film in how it's filmed and edited, but the story sticks to being horror. It's something I feel is done too little, as it can give films the face lift they deserve.
I was surprised by the amount of gore, and how great some kills were. It's not flawless effects, but they are effective, bloody and raw. A few props didn't look realistic, but who cares when the film has this much blood pouring? Except for the one or two props I wasn't convinced by, everything looks great. It's detailed and in-your-face. Some things (one effect that wasn't related to murder, especially) I need to question the lovely director to find out how he made.
With all of these things said, is it perfect? Am I just sucking up because I am good friends with Michael? Not at all. I am willing to admit the flaws. Some of the effects, as I said. But also some acting (I wasn't a fan of the Chester guy's way of talking, but this might be something they did on purpose). The movie almost constant has music playing in the background which gave it a out-of-body sort of feel, but I wanted some essential parts to leave it out to really get a grip of the characters.
Now, was this worth the wait? Hell yes, it was. It's a fantastic little independent production that mixes some of my favorite elements - gore, murder, experimental filmmaking, and a few things I am leaving out for this spoiler-free review. In it's entirely it's completely different from most films (even if individual parts aren't) and a real treat to watch. Michael worked the concept slowly and made the build up believable even if some things pushed it completely out of the safe zone (with that I mean, if it stayed a typical slasher/murder movie, it wouldn't have been as interesting but also not as out there). It is without a doubt the best film Michael Todd Schneider has made (I'm willing to bet it's the best he has worked on too) and I can't wait to see the final cut of it. I believe the ending is gonna be slightly changed, so I can't wait to see what his vision is since I think the ending was one of the best parts of the movie. This is one of the best horror experiences I have had this year.