American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by ITN Distribution
Written and directed by Eddie Lengyel
2019, 103 minutes, Not Rated
Released on February 5th, 2019
KateLynn E. Newberry as Alice Crow
Rob Jaeger as Hunter Perry
Roger Conners as Dylan Reavis
Angela Cole as Bree
Brianna Burke as Lauren Miller
Crissy Kolarik as Lilith Ratchet
What do you get when you combine a Woman in Black evil force, Bloody Mary-style hook, and Final Destination plot construction? Actually, I’ll step back a second. What you should get is one hell of a nasty little horror flick rooted in classic fare. What you get in American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet, however, is a messy and unintentionally comedic film that looks like a late-night Skinemax offering without the T&A.
American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet presents the tale of Alice (KateLynn E. Newberry; Mother Krampus 2: Slay Ride) and Lauren (Brianna Burke; Fighting the Sky), two friends who shoplift an ornately carved wooden box from a local hippie emporium. The box contains the shrunken head of Lilith Ratchet along with a rhyme for how to play a game; a hot-potatoesque bit of fun that brings about the wrath of a vengeful demon in the form of a cruel woman who wants you to “feel her pain”. They bring the object to Hunter Perry (Rob Jaeger; Chill: The Killing Games), host of the popular podcast Beyond the Veil. Quicker than you can say “this is a shitty idea”, the game is played at a club party and all hell breaks loose.
From the silly open (I’ll hide in the bathroom behind the see-through glass shower door!), you quickly realize you’re in for something that doesn’t have much of a budget. Here’s the thing, though: that is perfectly fine in and of itself. There are many things that can elevate a low-budget movie past its meager finances: quality performances, believable dialogue, cinematographic style, even a commitment to campiness (if that’s what you are going for). The issue for American Poltergeist comes in its lack of any of those qualities.
The combination of the mediocrity of the overall performance and the HD-cam gives the look of something that you’d see on Cinemax at three in the morning. I seriously kept waiting for the lesbian sex scene to start…and not just because of my proclivity for that. The rather canned quality of the dialogue and utter lack of any drama simply feels so soft-core, you won’t be able to shake the feeling that you’re about to see some boobs (which you never do, for the record).
Furthermore, when the look of your evil force is pure Woman in Black and there’s not a hint of gothic inspiration anywhere in sight, it’s just jarring. It’s the definition of square peg and round hole. Crissy Kolarik does an adequate of playing the part of Lilith Ratchet with attempted menace, but the HD doesn’t do the makeup any favors, and the result is that of a cut-rate haunted attraction feature.
With a running time of 103 minutes, The Curse of Lilith Ratchet feels interminably long. I have no issue with horror going past the 90-minute mark, but you’d better be bringing some tension to the proceedings. The protracted scenes of grieving after each character death are, frankly, some of the poorest I’ve ever seen. Don’t cry in a movie if you can’t pull it off. Period.
The bright spots come in the form of unintended hilarity. The séance scene (of course there’s a séance scene!) is comedy gold, with Lilith (seen only by the medium) physically grabbing the medium’s head and moving it around (à la Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam) as she hams up her intensity. Even better is the devastatingly alcoholic character of Mrs. Miller, Lauren’s widowed mother. She drinks constantly (and with absolute believability), intoning at one point, “Sometimes life throws you lemons, and lemons go great with vodka!”
That sums up American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet. Maybe you’ll dig it with a bottle of vodka and a few friends. Probably not. I’m a certified connoisseur of cheese, after all, and I want those lost 103 minutes back.
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