Cassadaga: Film Review

This muddled horror film demonstrates that ghosts and serial killers don't mix.

A deaf woman is haunted by the ghost of a serial killer's victim in Anthony DiBlasi's horror film.

What starts out as a reasonably effective ghost story devolves into familiar torture porn in Cassadaga, Anthony DiBlasi’s muddled horror film ineffectively blending two genre styles. This tale of a young deaf woman haunted by the ghost of a serial killer’s victim has some intriguing elements, but its overly convoluted plotting and sluggish pace render it an also-ran amidst the glut of scary movies that inevitably hit theaters in the weeks before Halloween.

After a short prologue providing a hint about the ensuing violent mayhem, the story begins with a jolt: Just as the loving relationship between schoolteacher Lily (Kelen Coleman) and her younger sister (Sarach Sculco) is warmly established, the latter is accidentally killed.

The grief-stricken Lily gives up her job and accepts a scholarship at a university located in the titular town in Florida known as the “Psychic Capital of the World.” Naturally, it isn’t long before she attends her first séance, in which she indeed makes contact with her sister. Unfortunately, other complications ensue, such as frequent visitations from a more malevolent spirit of a young woman and such phenomenon as vomiting up live maggots.

Attempting to solve the mystery of the woman’s murder, the intrepid Lily, with the aid of her hunky new EMT boyfriend (Kevin Alejandro), winds up involved in the case of a serial killer -- whimsically dubbed Geppetto by the media -- who specializes in cutting off his victims’ limbs and transforming them into human marionettes. Naturally, viewers are not deprived of several opportunities to see him ply his perverse craft.

Although on one level it’s admirable that that the heroine’s deafness doesn’t really matter much to the story, it seems yet one more unnecessary element in an overstuffed mélange featuring prosaic dialogue, superfluous characters (including one played by Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher, wasted here) and uninspired direction and performances. A visit to the real-life psychic burb would surely provide more thrills.

Opens Oct. 11 (Archstone Distribution)

Production: Poiley Wood Entertainment, Cassadage Film Production

Cast: Kelen Coleman, Kevin Alejandro, Louise Fletcher, Rus Blackwell, Hank Stone, Lucas Beck, Lucias Baston

Director: Anthony DiBlasi

Screenwriters/producers: Bruce Wood, Scott Poiley

Director of photography: Jose Zambrano Cassella

Editor: Kristian Otero

Production designer: Nicole Balzarini

Costume designer: Beverly Safier

Composer: Dani Donadi

Rated R, 112 min.