Delivery: LAFF Review

There’s nothing to fear when horror movies like this bypass suspense.

This debut horror feature attempts to adapt genre material to a reality TV premise.

Long the realm of low-budget productions, horror movies have become ever more accessible to filmmakers with the introduction of documentary-style found-footage techniques, which is not always a good thing. Derivative, predictable and nearly suspense-free, Delivery retreads themes both recent and classic -- necessarily limiting theatrical, although VOD formats may lend some reach.

While attempting to conceive for the second time following an unfortunate miscarriage, young couple Rachel (Laurel Vail) and Kyle (Danny Barclay) agree to appear on a reality-TV show to document their journey. The film purports to depict footage that was never aired after the show was canceled following a single episode, as related by Rick (Rob Cobuzio), the producer who developed the project.

Soon after becoming first-time homeowners, the couple begins to notice strange things going on around their nondescript suburban house. Their concerns fade, however, when Rachel’s pregnancy is confirmed and they begin planning for the child’s birth. As the first trimester progresses, however, the unusual events around the house become more frequent and the paintings Rachel creates in a vacant upstairs room exhibit progressively weirder and more violent imagery.

As her behavior becomes increasingly erratic and dangerous, she begins to develop the conviction that the pregnancy is doomed because an evil spirit is attempting to possess the soul of her unborn child. After a mid-term miscarriage scare jeopardizes her pregnancy, the fetus miraculously – and ominously -- manages to survive, although the bizarre events surrounding Rachel only intensify.

Even ignoring the wanton pilfering from similar horror films, the inherent weaknesses of co-writer and director Brian Netto’s production are almost immediately obvious. Faltering after just the first few scenes when onscreen titles disclose the ultimate outcome of the case, the film never manages to build much mystery or tension. The filmmakers’ narrative arc remains frustratingly predictable throughout, while the recycled horror conventions break no new ground.

Trapped in the film’s reality TV conceit, the actors’ performances are stiff and self-conscious, rarely hitting the heights of suspense the film occasionally hints at. Although the scenario that Netto initially sets up might have potential in a more straightforward horror-feature format, the TV-show concept and visual aesthetic irreparably compromise any spark of originality, not unlike the reality shows it attempts to appropriate.

Venue: Los Angeles Film Festival

Cast: Laurel Vail, Danny Barclay, Rob Cobuzio

Director: Brian Netto

Screenwriters: Brian Netto, Adam Schindler

Producer: Adam Schindler

Director of photography: Andrew Bates

Music: Daniel Cossu

Editors: Adam Schindler, Brian Netto, Andrew Bates

Sales: XYZ Films

No rating, 87 minutes