- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Ten

Also known as:

Year: 2014

Genre: Independent / Horror / Mystery / Thriller

Language: English

Runtime: 83 min

Director: Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein

Writer: Michael J. Epstein, Sarah Wait Zaranek, Jade Sylvan & Sophia Cacciola


Ten women have been tricked to visit a house on Spektor Island, believing they were going on a business trip. They're all of different occupations and quickly realize that someone has been lying to them. When statues and images of pigs begin to show up all over the large house, they're suspecting something strange. Thoughts of the supernatural are brought up, and soon one of them is found dead.

Our thoughts:
The classics of the mystery/slasher genre were not quite like the slasher flicks we think of today - but many of them are built upon that. Most independent slashers skip the traits of the classic movies and novels and go for the braindead killer-teenagers-gore formula. Not to disrespect that subgenre there are plenty of good movies, but when something like "Ten" arrives on your doorstep (or in your e-mail), it's easy to be caught off guard. "Ah, a shitty generic indie slasher", I thought. Not really. Agatha Christie meets the punk generation, is more like it.

We've seen the main concept a lot before. A group of people are invited to a location by a mysterious source and they realize they've been lied to. In "Ten" it's a bunch of women with different backgrounds. We have an actress, a model, a historian, a medium, and so on. They all arrive to a large mansion where they come to the agreement that something's not right, especially considering the amount of pig imagery that's spread out. Statues, pictures, and similar. Soon they are picked off one by one by a person in a pig mask.

Sounds typical, doesn't it? Sure, it has the shell of a whodunit slasher, but it's not just that. From there it goes a long, long away from slashers, digging into both the political and the psychological aspect of stereotypes, sometimes having a hard time letting us take part of either completely. It's something that everyone will be split about I am sure, but I personally think they have a unique movie on their hands and have made it with the right mindset, but not fully able to investigate everything they're packing beneath.

The movie could easily be confused by a Troma movie at times, with some quirky moments and so-so gore effects, but it doesn't take long to understand that they're of a different breed. No doubt indie movies such as those of Troma have inspired them in several ways, but these filmmakers have put ten women into a way different situation than Lloyd Kaufman would have, if you know what I mean! Now if you mix Troma with Agatha Christie, Hitchcock, Jean Rollin and some other spices then you're closer to the experience of "Ten", despite its flaws.

It's not a very gory movie and it doesn't have many boobs-per-second like you'd want from slashers, but I still think the general indie slasher fan would get a lot of entertainment out of "Ten". Even though it has a lot going on and they've been incredibly ambitious with where the plot goes, the outer shell is still very much a slasher. This is where they might win people over from both camps.

I'm not completely sold on "Ten" due to feeling it was a bit too spread out. They wanted a bit too much. But it was a very pleasant surprise to see that they brought inspiration from all over the place (and often the right places). It's definitely a bold mystery-slasher that you can get invested in and it will surprise you where it goes. So overall I think this will go over well with the indie crowd, but not without criticism.

Positive things:
- A nice mix of inspiration.
- Surprisingly solid acting.
- Has some weird and quirky scenes.

Negative things:
- A bit all over the place.
- Could have used a little extra in the overall look of the movie to make it stand out.

Gore: 2/5
Nudity: 1.5/5
Story: 2.5/5
Effects: 2/5
Comedy: 1.5/5

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