Movie Review: Filmmaker and cast keep their amateur standing in “Occurrence at Mills Creek”

It’d be cruel to single out an actor for the performances, each worse than the next, in the amateurish horror outing “Occurrence at Mills Creek.”

A simple “haunted by causing my sister’s death” drama with a dose of “family curse” ladled on to give it the “horror” label, this a cringe-worthy, eye-rolling, drinking-game bad. Is it a student film? If so, I apologize for being mean.

The makeup is off, the music doesn’t fit the material, the pace is funereal and all of that comes to a head in a semi-intentionally hilarious “create a disturbance at a funeral” scene, non-professionals trying to act coy, furious, stricken or flirtatious and doing their best, but gosh darn it…

Our heroine, Clara (Ava Psoras) buries her mother (Betsy Lynn George), younger sister Cassandra (Alexa Mechling) and alcoholic, abusive father (Joe Fishel) in very short order. No wonder we see scars on her wrists.

She’s in therapy, which is a blessing. But as she caused Cassie’s death, Dr. Vicki (Dana Langshaw) is having a hard time assuaging her guilt. And in her guiltier moments, Clara sees and hears dueling Dr. Vickis (Grace Langshaw joining her twin sister) hissing “Maybe you’re just BAD” and “Maybe you should just GIVE IN.”

Seeing visions of dead family members (“How beautiful you are, how beautiful you’ll stay!”), finding a 100 year old diary, a house haunted by memories of a slaughter, the picture doesn’t turn supernatural slasher pic until late in the third act.

But the mere fact it does will attract the chosen few.

And through it all, the expressionless, unemotional and unempathetic acting, serving up heaping helpings of exposition when the “What’s real? What’s she dreaming?” story drifts off the coherent path into something even duller.

MPA rating: unrated, violence

Cast: Ava Psoras, Mary Sack, Betsy Lynn George, Alexa Mechling, Joe Fishel

Credits: Scripted and directed by Don Swanson. An Indie Rights release.

Running time: 1:22

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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