If there's a down side to an increasingly popular film review website, it's that some of the films I could easily make time for early on in my journey have had to be put aside in favor of broadening my cinematic spectrum.
So, it's a special joy when I have a month where I'm able to check everything off my list early on in the month and devote myself to some of those beloved indie horror films that simply don't cross my desk as much anymore.
Acort International's Terror TV flick Evil Under the Skin is one example.
If you're unfamiliar with Terror TV, Terror TV is a subscription-based on-demand video streaming service, think Netflix or Amazon but for indie horror, that you can catch either straight from your computer or on such devices as a Roku. The service is truly nothing but indie horror with at least one new title added weekly. The catalogue is already impressive and getting better all the time.
Back to Evil Under the Skin.
Directed by Jeffrey Schneider off a Luc Bernier script, Evil Under the Skin is a horror/thriller about a mother, Sophie (Helene Udy, My Bloody Valentine), and her adult daughter Roselee (Angela Barajas, Burn Off) who are more than a little bit estranged after bad relationships strained what already seemed to be their own mother/daughter relationship. Determined to have some girl time, the two head off to an isolated lakeside cabin in Oregon for some re-bonding and major chill time.
Of course, this is an indie horror film and we know nothing goes quite as planned.
Sophie's cracks start to show. She's on medication and prone to hallucinations. One couple down the road, Matt (Tim O'Hearn, Johnny Gruesome) and Carla (Donna Hamblin, Hellcat's Revenge), takes an increasingly special interest in their daily lives at the cabin while local law enforcement, Sheriff Roy (Carl Bailey, When the Game Stands Tall) and Ranger Jenny (Pamela Sutch, Trakked), show up to investigate some reported noise complaints from the cabin.
Things get worse for Sophie and it's not long before Roselee is right behind her. With the police still showing up, slowly, perhaps too slowly for some, the story reveals itself.
Evil Under the Skin is a creepy slow-burning thriller with a stronger than you might expect ensemble cast including fine co-lead performances from both Udy and Barajas. Sophie's semi-meltdowns are almost hilariously histrionic, yet there's something about them that's still unsettling and you can see Sophie's cracks on Udy's expressive, unforgettable face. You never know quite what's going on with Roselee and Barajas gives her substance even though she has more than a little bit of a tendency to take her top off for just about any reason at all.
But hey, it's Oregon. Go for it.
The ensemble itself is also strong with O'Hearn coming off as a rather beefed up Iggy Pop type (That's a compliment!) have a fantastic chemistry with the equally awesome Donna Hamblin. Carl Bailey and Pamela Sutch are also top-notch.
The original music by Kelle Rhoads is lo-fi and effective, while Schneider's own lensing for the film is vastly superior to just about anything you expect from the indie horror scene. It's truly effective in capturing both the idyllic setting and the increasing tension and chills.
For more information on Evil Under the Skin, you can check out the film's Facebook page linked to in the credits or be sure to watch it on Terror TV for yourself!
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic