Saturday, January 1, 2011

DVD REVIEW: Let Me Die Quietly (2009)

Release Date: On DVD January 4th 2011

DISTRIBUTOR: Breaking Glass Pictures
RATED: Unrated
GENRE: Neo-Noir, Thriller
DIRECTOR: Mitchel Reichler, Brian Michael Finn
CAST: Charles Casillo (Milo), Dana Perry (Gabrielle), Ian Thomaschik (Dr. Avery), Paul Coughlan (Det. Devlin), Ian MacRae (Nick)
TAGLINE: What he sees can kill you.

PLOT: Mario is a haunted, broken-broken-down man who's been tortured by visions of violent murders all his life. Now, as his visions intensify he senses his own impending death. Mario sets out to save the life of the last victim in his final premonitions. Then, he has a chance encounter in an elevator with a beautiful woman, Gabrielle, who herself is psychic and seeing different aspects of the same murder. These two lost souls join forces in an attempt to stop a serial killer, but, in their quest, they may end up leading each other down a path of self-destruction.
FILM: Let Me Die Quietly (2009) is the indie neo-noir thriller from directors Mitchell Reichler and Brian Michael Finn and penned by writer/actor Charles Casillo who stars in the film as Mario. His story is revealed in flashbacks as he confesses to a priest. The tale he weaves begins as he recounts his sexual proclivities, his visions of death that have haunted him from youth and the chance encounter with a gorgeous woman named Gabrielle (Dana Perry) who leads him down the destructive path that leads to the film's suspenseful final moments. 

The New York City depicted in Let Me Die Quietly feels small and claustrophobic, more a neighborhood and a sprawling metropolis. Mario is a man at his ropes end, his sanity frayed and unraveling quickly. It's a powerful performance from Charles Casillo who recalls a younger Brian Benben (HBO's DREAM ON series), it's a nuanced performance steeped in noir tradition, good stuff and a definite high point of the film. After years of haunting visions and an increased sense of his own mortality he chooses to intervene on behalf of the victim in his current vision which leads him to the chance encounter with Gabrielle (Dana Perry) another psychic who shares his visions, though from a different perspective. She's a mysterious and alluring character, but this is a noir so you know an attractive woman is not to be trusted. Mario also confides his visions to his therapist - Dr. Avery (Ian Tomaschik), but the guy just seems sinister from the get-go (this is a noir after all) who plays heavily into the layered storyline. Also figuring into the story is Det. Devlin who Mario approaches with his visions which make him a suspect right away when he reveals crime scene evidence not made public. Great interplay between the character and when the double crossing begins it only get better.  

The film is heavy on noir atmosphere, no small feat considering the film's surely tiny budget. The overall effect is greatly enhanced by Isaac Rodrigonzalez's haunting score which accentuated the films sleepy noir pace. Be forewarned though, the film is a slow burn. I started the film twice before settling in to it's relaxed and deliberate pace - but when the film starts to unfold and reveal its twisty self it's truly captivating stuff. One aspect of the film that felt untrue to me is a characters change in sexual orientation. Perhaps I missed something but I felt it was too convenient, I think a re-watch is on order here. Anyway, in the grand scheme of things it didn't ruin the film for me.  

DVD: Let Me Die Quietly is presented in a 16x9 aspect ratio with stereo audio and looks  decent. Definitely shot digitally and on a micro-budget but its stylish in a way that suits the neo-noir thriller atmosphere.  This was a screener of the film from Breaking Glass Pictures and the image was a bit flawed owing more to the fact that it was a ripped screener than anything else. My copy included none of the special features but should you buy the DVD here's what you get.
- Interview with writer/actor Charles Casillo on the Making Of LET ME DIE QUIETLY
- Video of the Los Angeles Premiere
- Theatrical Trailer

VERDICT:  A solid and suspenseful  indie entry into the neo-noir genre. Good performances all around, Casillo and Perry particularly, with a script that weaves a tangled web of deceit and betrayal leading to a twisty and satisfying finale. If you are fan of  noir thrillers and don't  mind some sexual exploration which may step outside your comfort level this is a recommend. Keep in mind this is an elaborate thriller not a horror film, as such gorehounds may be sorely disappointed if expecting otherwise. So, keep an open-mind and don't expect a ton of bloodshed and I think you'll find there's a lot to enjoy here.
*** (3 out of 5 stars)