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NEEDLE

SYNOPSIS:
Ben Rutherford (Michael Dorman) inherits a strange antique box from his father. When the box goes missing, a series of bizarre and gruesome murders follows. Ben and his brother Marcus (Travis Fimmel) have been estranged for years, but now they reconcile and discover that the machine is a voodoo tool for revenge, built in the 18th century. They also learn that their father had killed his partner Robert Shawn ten years previously and now someone is seeking revenge for the sins of their father.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Taking a fresh twist on the college campus serial killer sub genre of horror, John V. Soto delivers an engaging and well executed supernatural thriller in which mechanical voodoo (not the hip hop band) is the weapon of choice for the killer.

If you're not familiar with mechanical voodoo that's because it's a Soto invention, a mysterious set of cogs and wheels within a timber box which creates figurines from candle wax, references a photo of the intended victim and uses blood and other fluids to dispense its vicious revenge - supernaturally.

But all that is unknown to Ben Rutherford (Michael Dorman), the college student when he is presented with the strangely carved wooden box by a lawyer, two years after his father's death. Sorry 'bout the delay, says the lawyer.

Ben's brother Marcus (Travis Fimmel) got dad's lovely yacht, Ben got the box - which soon goes missing. But as Ben holds Marcus responsible for their father's death, they haven't spoken in years. Drawn together by the mystery of the missing box and the subsequent murders, the brothers search for clues. They find them a bit too easily, with Marcus making one especially big leap of deduction in his detective work, but we can excuse that in view of the excellent storytelling that surrounds it.

The cast make good use of the characters drawn in the screenplay, and performances are uniformly excellent. Travis Fimmel has an especially memorable presence, Ben Mendelsohn makes a charismatic cameo as Detective Meares and John Jarratt has lots of quirky fun as the Coroner in the morgue. The women are much more than pretty targets, and Jessica Marais throws herself into the role of the lesbian Kandi.

The horrific deaths are effectively handled, building the tension and the fear as the box does its voodoo and the unsuspecting victim begins to panic in pain.

As well as a Golden Skull award at the 2010 Screamfest in Los Angeles, the film also won awards for Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects and Best Supporting Actress at the 2010 British Horror Film Festival in Bournemouth, England. It has been sold to a dozen countries, from Mexico to Korea, from Turkey to Brazil.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

NEEDLE (MA15+)
(Aust, 2010)

CAST: Michael Dorman, Travis Fimmel, Tahyna Tozzi, Jessica Marais, Trilby Glover, Luke Carroll, Nathaniel Buzolic, Khan Chittenden, John Jarrat, Jane Badler, Ben Mendelsohn

PRODUCER: Deidre Kitcher

DIRECTOR: John V. Soto

SCRIPT: John V. Soto, Anthony Egan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen F. Windon

EDITOR: Jason Ballantine

MUSIC: Jamie Blanks

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nigel Devenport

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Filmscope Ent

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 28, 2011







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