By Andrew Perry
I’m a horror movie fan, but my colleague who attended this film with me, was not. She became so shaken by the film’s grim and gory scenes, that we had to leave a little earlier than I hoped.
On October 12, I attended the North American debut of ‘The Well’ at Screamfest, at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. While I left about an hour into the film (30-40 minutes left), I believe I had a good enough impression that I can summarize some of my thoughts about the film, with zero danger of me giving away any spoilers or plot points.
Overall, the film follows an art restorer (Lauren LaVera) who was commissioned by a duchess to restore a painting that was damaged in a fire in an enchanting Italian villa. The art restorer, however, did not know that the painting, and the people living in the mansion where the painting was located, were actually a sinister group of witches and ghouls.
Massive props to Director Federico Zampaglione and his team. The film was very well put together. The lighting, the scenery, the artistic use of music and sound, the makeup – was all woven in such a way that I couldn’t help but get drawn into the storyline.
Like most horror films, the film starts off innocent enough, a bus driving through a beautiful Italian countryside, with beautiful classical or traditional music playing in the background. In the bus, we are introduced to the protagonist Lisa Grey (played by Lauren LaVera), a passenger on the bus. There’s a stop where three people are picked up. At some point, one of the individuals tries to introduce themselves to Lisa. Caught by surprise, Lisa removes her headphones, and the music stops. This was the first clue that the people who put this film together knew what they were doing. The music we were listening to was what Lisa was listening to.
Later on, the quasi-supernatural beings and monstrosities that would eventually scare my partner out of the theatre (and me chasing after her) were also very well together. For instance, in a medieval style dungeon setting we were introduced to a very large and brutish man, who I do not believe was ever named. This character was big, muscular, and the impression you get was that he wasn’t exactly Isaac Newton upstairs. Rather, he seem to be unable to speak, had some intriguing tics and twitches going on, and that he did his job tirelessly. And what was his job, you ask? Basically, his sole purpose seems to be to terrorize and maim prisoners, in order to feed a particular monstrous creature, who in turn imparts a special I have to give Lorenzo Renzi, the actor who portrayed this brutish ogre of a man, some serious accolades for how he rounded out the portrayal of this character.
Another of the creatures was portrayed by an actress named Melanie Gaydos. Gaydos herself has ectodermal dysplasia; a rare disorder that prevents an individual from developing teeth, pores, nails, and bones from developing and maturing. This disorder creates in the individual a unique look that fits in perfectly with the horror genre, and to Gaydos’ credit, she embraces it. This condition isn’t new to the horror genre. Actor Michael Berryman, famous for his role in The Hills Have Eyes and others, also has the condition which gives him his iconic look.
Gaydos’ creature, pictured in the movie poster, is a sorceress of sorts, or something. Now that I think about it, I’m not exactly sure what she is supposed to do, except scare the living daylights out of hapless young women who don’t like horror films. I think my biggest regret was that I was unable to interview any of the stars of the film who were at the debut. Gaydos was one of those stars in the audience.
I recall a particularly brutal and gory scene in the middle of the movie, which probably lasted a good 10-15 minutes. The transition from that scene to the next was dark and silent. I felt that Zampaglione wanted our brains to process what we had just scene. In that silence, I heard one man on the far side of the audience breathe a gasp of relief. I hear you, brother. That scene was intense!
It wasn’t too much longer, after yet another macabre scene, my partner decided to tap out. She whispered to me that she wasn’t enjoying herself. I’m a horror fan, but I’m also a gentleman. So, I got up and took the walk of shame out the door, feeling judged by all my fellow horror fans.
As I said, my biggest regret was that I wasn’t able to interview any of the stars, because there was a Q&A at the end of the movie, and a few of the stars were there in the audience. But, I was there to review the movie, and damn it – this is my review.
I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you horror fans go out and check out the movie. I might not be a hardcore movie critic, but I definitely was digging the film. Kudos to the director and the cast. I highly recommend it.