Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cold Creepy Feeling: City Mouse in the Ranch Style Ghost House

Cold Creepy Feeling from California's High Voltage is the story of a young couple trying to escape big city living to find a simpler life in the country. What they find is a life simply filled with somebody else's simple deaths; in other words, unsettled spirits. While the haunted house has seen a re-emergence in popular cinema in features like the Innkeepers, the Paranormal Activity series and Insidious, Cold Creepy Feeling attempts to bring together the found footgage genre and your typical new house/haunted house story alongside some popular exorcism film tropes. While that's not an uncommon theme these days our filmmakers have clearly tried to separate themselves from some of the previous genre outings.

Synopsis from the producers: A young couple, Lisa Younger and Jared Vandenberg, escape the Los Angeles rate race for the quiet life in Joshua Tree, California but paranormal visions and voices quickly turn the house of their dreams into a house of nightmares. They enlist the help of a spiritualist, Alex Damiano, to help exorcise the premises but this only awakens and angers the demonic presence that lurks within. When the town Sherriff, Dennis Woodruff, becomes involved, he discovers that another family mysteriously disappeared 10 years earlier without a trace and he also become entangled in the web of evil horror. (Produced by Keither Kurlander and Dennis Woodruff).

Does the magic combo of super popular ghost story meets, haunted house meets exorcism work for the film? Not completely. While I can appreciate being introduced to the protagonists for an elongated period of time in order to sympathize with them, the change from ordinary couple in a new house story to haunted house story takes an unevenly spaced amount of time to ultimately evolve into the demonic, exorcism, found footage film that Cold Creepy Feeling is trying to be. That does not mean that the movie is without merit or moments of effective "creep out". You just have to wait out some fairly uneven audio levels, blurry focus and rocky camera to get to the horror movie you expect to see.

The acting is quite good and the characters do manage to find their way to your heart strings all be it around some dialogue in need of tweaking. You are absolutely not allowed to use the words, "the power of Christ compels you" if you are trying to make a serious film. It comes off as a joke. If the intent was a joke than the rest of the film must have a hair more comedy. If there's one thing that films of this genre type seem to find absolutely essential it is the that the actors are believable, at least pleasant to watch and if not pleasant to watch live, hilarious to watch die. I think our protagonists clearly fit that description and allow the viewer to wait for the punchline later in the film. I believe the finest moment in the film is either the sex scene turned Tarantula encounter at which I actually maintained the heebie jeebies for a minute or two which displays a nice juxtaposition of intimacy vs. terror and avoids the gratuitous jump scare. This scene may only be trumped by our leading lady running through the desert in the middle of the night, terrified out of her mind in nothing but underwear and Ugg style boots. I'm not sure that image has ever been as successfully captured as it was in Cold Creepy Feeling.

There's a certain fish-out-of-water quality the actors convey effectively and that carries into the scare sequences which might have fallen flat had it not been for their abilities. If you're looking for special effect filled romp than Cold Creep Feeling is not for you. The film uses the found footage style camera work to compensate for lack of special effects and tries to mask some scares with the distortion that might be present in a film of that type i.e. camera movement to hide the scare and night vision to hide the ghost. The entire film suffers from minor technical difficulties in camera placement, focus and audio levels. While these drawbacks do not detract from the picture entirely you become aware of them at key moments and the suspension of disbelief is lost. If the audience can push past this then they'll enjoy the scare. I would also question some of the selections used in the film score as not as Western as they should be although the creep out sequences seem to have appropriate music. What I enjoy about Cold Creepy Feeling is that it realizes that it is a film on a budget and tries to play to the directors and actors strengths as well as using some creepy desert scene-scapes to set the mood.

Overall its a good early effort from this team of filmmakers, but the combination of subgenres is crammed so far into the end of the picture that each aspect doesn't satisfactorily develop. The important thing to take away form this is that a creep out in the desert is effective. You can take the setting and really use the ghostly images inherent in the environment. The city mouse, country mouse aspect of the film definitely works and I think you'll find an audience that will identify with that transition effectively carried by the actors. If this film production team can work on some of the technical issues that detract from some good scares and build some better dialogue they creep outs will carry the production nicely. I would not be surprised or displeased to find this offering on the film festival circuit but if it all possible without the blatant Exorcist borrow. Stick with what works. Combining the fish out of water story with the haunted house/ghost angle and avoid exorcisms or seances at all cost unless you want to be lumped in with films like Beyond the Door (and not the Exorcist or Last Exorcism). For all the talk of demons I think its more effective as a ghost story/house haunting.

Follow Cold Creepy Feeling here (available on DVD):  


  1. I know you did. I found things in it that I can appreicate for an amateur effort. Focus on its strengths and try to be NICE ya big lug. I kept humming the Eagles song Peacful Easy Feeling due to the goddamn title. I fucking HATE the Eagles.

  2. I know you did. I found things in it that I can appreicate for an amateur effort. Focus on its strengths and try to be NICE ya big lug. I kept humming the Eagles song Peacful Easy Feeling due to the goddamn title. I fucking HATE the Eagles.