Saturday, December 28, 2019

GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR (2018) (Dark Sky Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Dark Sky Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 93 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround, PCM 2.0 Stereo  with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Travis Stevens
Cast: Phil "C.M. Punk" Brooks, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sarah Brooks, Elissa Dowling, Travis Delgado

Don Koch (WWE wrestling legend Phil 'CM Punk' Brooks) is a guy who seems to have barely escaped landing in prison following some sort of corrupt financial acrobatics at his former job, now he's expecting a child with his seemingly well-off wife Liz (Trieste Kelly Dunn) who is preggers. They've purchased a dilapidated Victorian house in the outskirts of Chicago which Don plans to renovate himself before the the kid is born. He comes to the house with precious too-few tools only to discover that the repairs necessary are quite extensive and perhaps a bit grosser than expected, but just the same he dives into it, ineptly and over his head

There's a dripping black goo permeating the walls, and the light fixtures and electrical outlets are dripping what can only be described as phantasmagorical goo. Don finds a used condom on the floor of the living room in a pool of what looks to be ghost-splooge sprinkled with the dead flies, it's just not a very welcoming place. 

He's welcomed to the neighborhood by pastor Ellie (Karen Woditsch, American Fable) from the church across the street, and is later informed by the crusty bartender at the local dive bar/bowling alley that the place he bought was once a brothel, with a sordid history, oddly saying that the place has never served 'straight men' well.

While ill-advisedly "fixing" the wayward kitchen plumbing with a mini sledge-hammer Don catches a face full of black-goo and goes outside to wash the gunk from his face from a hose bib, where he encounters the local sexpot, a seductive young woman (Sarah Brooks), whom he sleeps with in very short order. Don's very pregnant wife Liz is present only video chats on the phone for most of the film and is none the wiser , and when Don tries to give the local tart the cold shoulder realizing he might be digging himself into a hole things begin to sour within the already strange house becoming even gooier and more unnerving. 

I am not a wrestling fan so I didn't have any preconceived notions about Phil 'CM Punk' Brooks acting ability, and I was pleasantly surprised, he comes off as an affable but also loathsome sort of guy, someone driven by his personal desires and not so much by good decision making and doing what's right or moral. Brooks' image brings to mind a mingling of Bruce Campbell by way of Ted Raimi, and he does good work here, though I did find his decision-making skills to be a bit challenging to say the least. The script doesn't exactly make the most logical sense when it comes to character motivations, but Brooks does good work here all things considered with plenty of on-screen presence. 

There's definitely some supernatural weirdness happening at the house, it exhibiting some sort of an influence on the weak-willed Don, and then there's that ectoplasmic-cum seeping from the fixtures, and when the ceiling of the master bedroom caves-in he discovers a strange viewing gallery built above their bedroom, some sort of voyeuristic gallery left over from the house's days as a brothel in the 20's. Also left over from it's sordid past are vengeful spirits, including the apparition of a woman with a hideously disfigured face, looking as if someone has split her face with an ax, the gaping wound lined with rows of teeth, which makes for an unsettling image.   

This one is a slow-burn but it builds suspense from the very beginning and gets under the skin with some icky Cronenberg-styled weirdness, including vaginal looking light-switch that occasionally spits out colored marbles onto the floor, rolling throughout the house in a way that had me thinking of The Changeling's bouncing red-ball. 

This film is the directorial debut from Travis Stevens, the producer such indie films as Starry Eyes and Cheap Thrills among others, and it's a solid effort right out of the gate, well-directed with good suspense, tension and supernatural elements, I am looking forward to what comes next for him. The same can be said of Phil 'CM Punk' Brooks, he does good work here, and would love to see him in more stuff, particularly something along the lines of a horror-comedy in the Evil Dead 2 vein. Special mention goes out to the extremely seductive Sarah Brooks as the supernatural sexpot in the film. I mean, sure, Don is a deeply flawed man with self control issues, but her portrayal as the wicked vixen in the film is fantastic, and the flesh is only so strong, it would be hard to resist, she gives of a Laura Palmer of Twin peaks vibe that I found enthralling.      

Audio/Video: Girl On The Third Floor (2018) arrives on Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films framed in 1.78:1 widescreen presented in 1080p HD. 
Audio comes by way of English DTS-HD MA 5.1 or PCM 2.0 with optional English subtitles. Extras on the disc include an audio commentary with director Travis Stevens and trailers for the film plus a selection of  Dark Sky Films Trailers. The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork. 

Special Features: 
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Producer Travis Stevens 
- Teaser Trailer
- Theatricals Trailer
- Dark Sky Films

I give the film plenty of love for the disturbing physical effects and haunted house eeriness of it all, but it loses points for the clunky storytelling that struggles to get across the reasoning for whats happening, it being basically a supernatural morality tale, but I enjoyed it enough to still give this a recommend, it's not perfect but it's still worked for me, recommended for fans of stuff like We Are Still Here (2015) and other slow-burn but visceral haunters.