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The Independent Critic

Christine Chemello, Nicole Maroon, Dylan MacDonald
Navin Ramaswaran
83 Mins.


 "Nara" Review 
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Some secrets are not meant to be uncovered...

Blane (Dylan MacDonald) is content to live in a world of isolation, a loner for whom isolation feeds his imagination. One day, he crosses paths with Krista (Nicole Maroon) and his carefully protected world is suddenly torn up when their growing connection triggers the jealousy of his friend Nara (Christine Chemello).

A thriller not too far removed from the recent Splice, a bit ironic given the production company's name is Splice Productions, Nara is an intriguing and suspenseful low-budget indie that works better as a vehicle of horror than within the framework of the story itself.

There are countless variations of the "psycho outcast loner" storyline that exist in the horror genre, and while Nara doesn't really do anything to distinguish itself from the pack it does serve notice that Toronto-based writer/director Navin Ramaswaran has a solid grasp of what makes a scene suspenseful that works well alongside D.P. Troy Shantz.

It is not necessary to believe a story, especially in horror, to appreciate the film itself. However, when the story itself doesn't necessarily convince it is required that either the horror/thriller aspects become transcendent or, minimally, there be characters present who warrant our continued involvement in the film.

Unfortunately, such is not the case in Nara, a film that will likely constantly remind you of another film just like it that works more effectively.

This is not to imply that Nara is a failure, not by any means. While Ramaswaran's dialogue occasionally feels a bit too matter-of-fact, he does pace the scenes in such a way that even when the words being spoken don't necessarily convince it is still difficult to turn away from what's going on.

Much of the reason for the success that Nara does achieve lies squarely in the hands of lead Dylan MacDonald, who achieves a sort of subtly deranged aura that makes you constantly wonder which direction his character is going. While the relationship between Blane and Krista doesn't give off much in the way of chemistry, MacDonald embodies Blane with just enough normalcy that it's easy to understand why Krista would be intrigued by this character. It's sort of as if Christian Slater's character in Untamed Heart went off the deep end. Christine Chemello, given very little to work with physically, gives a tremendously full-bodied performance as the very unusual object of Blane's affection.

Nara will be featured in a one night engagement at Toronto Underground Cinema on August 26th, 2010 at 9pm. For more information, visit the Nara website! 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic