Emotions can be extremely powerful; they can lift us high or they can destroy us. For Nicholas, his guilt will drive him to the edges of hell where he will have to decide: find redemption or be swallowed up by his guilt.
"Vindication" was one of those movies I've been interested in for quite awhile now and thankfully R-Squared Films was kind enough to send me a screener for it. I've been interested in the movie because, well, as odd as it may seem, the artwork. I knew little about the movie and had only seen a few screen caps but never the actual trailer but for some reason the artwork spoke to me. While it may appear to be extremely simple, I knew that there was going to be a lot more to the movie than just standard horror fair.
I was right in that sense. "Vindication" has a foundation of a standard story involving the lead character, Nicholas, being haunted by his past and is never able to move forward because of it. Nicholas is a cowardly-wimpy character; he lost his mother early on, his father hates him, and has essentially allowed himself to beaten down by life and is walked over and ignored by everyone. When you watch the movie it almost feels like those around him have disgust towards Nicholas because of his self-loathing attitude. The hatred he feels for himself and the isolation eventually drives his inner demons to physically manifest themselves which leads to his self destruction.
The story revolves around a character dealing with his inner turmoil, but the main theme for "Vindication" is about guilt. So a lot of the angst and emotional suffering that Nicholas deals with is guilt; guilt of losing his mother, guilt of losing his girlfriend, guilt of not having a father, guilt of not having mental strength, etc. In the movie, the guilt leads to the manifestation of a nameless entity that while is blind, sees everything. While Nicholas sees this manifestation and it seems as though this "person" is the driving force behind the downward spiral of Nicholas and is the one doing the killing. Like all movies dealing the mental breakdown of the character; it is actually Nicholas himself who is hacking up those around him.
"Vindication" is executed in a very different manner; rather than the traditional storytelling methods of cinema the movie draws its inspiration more from the stage rather than the screen. A majority of the things in the movie like dialogue, fight sequences, and performances are melodramatic and often over-the-top. It works both for and against the movie, making it at times a little more interesting and other times making it feel extremely cheesy and campy. Unfortunately the further along the movie goes the more the cheesy it feels, especially when Nicholas reveals himself after he had turned his violent rage into acts of self mutilation.
When I first saw the artwork for the movie I was expecting it to be more experimental and because the movie's story has a number of philosophical influences embedded into it. I was expecting the movie to be more artistic and surreal than it actually is. The story and ideas where there but "Vindication" simply did not have the visuals to support the ideas and that is what I feel is the movie's greatest downfall. Especially since for a number of scenes it has good visuals, but for the other times it comes off as more amateurish and even campy at times.
"Vindication" has a lot going for it and there is plenty of material and ideas there for a great movie but for the end result, there are too many things lacking that keeps it from being as good as it could be. The movie had a number of surprisingly solid performances from the minor characters but the most important one, Nicholas, I could not get behind. I'm not really sure if it's the fault of actor, the character, or just the movie in general. There just wasn't enough for me to generate any sympathy for him to care about the nightmarish journey he takes. As I said, there is so much potential in "Vindication" that I wanted to like it, I really did, but there wasn't enough support visually or story wise for the concept. Though I think people need to keep an eye out for Bart Mastronardi because I have no doubt he is destined to make something great.