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The Independent Critic

Jennifer Ward, Erin Nicole Cline
Joops Fragale
Frazer Lee

 "Simone" Review 
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Simone is part horror, part love story centering around a young woman, Simone (Jennifer Ward), who awakens after a hard night of partying hung over and vaguely aware that something doesn't feel right after having returned home with Eve (Erin Nicole Cline), an enchanting beauty.

Over the course of the next 16+ minutes, writer Frazer Lee and director Joops Fragale help Simone assemble the fragmented pieces of her memory, in between her episodic struggles to recover from her hangover, and to discover the truth about what happened the night before.

It would be easy to chalk Simone up as straight up lesbian horror. Heck, let's be honest. That would probably be enough. However, Lee has infused the character of Simone with much more than simply a torturous dilemma. As a young woman played by Jennifer Ward, Simone's struggles on a certain level mirror that of a certain scissor-handed odd fellow we all grew to know and love a few years back from Tim Burton. Sure, Simone is more graphic and raw but, at its very core, the humanity is much the same.

D.P. Jerry Orzel lenses the film beautifully, especially given the film's micro-budget foundation, with just the perfect blend of intense and jarring imagery woven together with moments of stillness and intimacy. While I wouldn't exactly say that we get to know Simone, it becomes abundantly clear quite quickly that there's much more going on than we're seeing and, as well, this is a young woman who isn't even remotely in control of how she's living her life.

Is she an out of control alcoholic?

Is she a sex-addicted lesbian?

Or is there something else?

While there's no question there are moments when the film's micro-budget shines through in terms of production value, especially where the sound mix is concerned and sporadically with special effects, if you can set those modest quibbles aside and absorb yourself in the story you're likely to find yourself drawn into Simone and, somewhat surprisingly, even to Eve as we get to know her in bits and pieces.

It helps that Simone features strong performances from its co-leads, Jennifer Ward and Erin Nicole Cline. Ward exudes both a sense of f***ed up menace and vulnerability, no small achievement. It's easy to see quite early on that there's much more going on, yet Ward keeps us watching her because it's also clear that this is a woman who is, on some level, trying really hard to overcome whatever it is she's dealing with in life. While the role of Eve could have easily been a throw away one-note, Erin Nicole Cline takes a relatively brief screen time and wraps us around her finger just enough that how the story resolves actually matters.

Produced by 386 Films, Simone isn't a flawless film but it's a compelling one that experienced quite a bit of success on the ultra-indie and indie film fest circuit and picked up a few prizes along the way. It has enough horror to please most indie horror fans, while those who demand more intelligent horror will also likely be pleased with Simone's story underneath its surface.

For more information on Simone, visit the film's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic