If Tom Sizemore mugs in the woods and no one is around to hear him, does he still get to collect his check? --
Mike Gillis (Tom Sizemore) and his wife are unable to have children of their own, so he does what any of us would do in that same situation – murders a prostitute, kidnaps her twin girls, and raises them as his own in a cabin in the woods. The killing doesn't end there however, as Mike does what he has to do to protect the girls from the outside world, finally culminating in the death of his own wife and the house collapsing upon the entire family when the girls accidentally start a fire. 17 years later, in order to escape an abusive boyfriend, Stacy runs to the very same woods and begins having strange visions. When she gets caught up in a new batch of murders, we’re left wondering - Is it Mike? Is it the twins? Is it a bear? (no) It’s up to Detective Black to solve the case before Stacy and her friends end up dead.
First, let’s address what we’re all thinking – we’re here to see Tom Sizemore (otherwise known as the poor man’s Michael Madsen, who is known as the poor man’s Tom Sizemore). Unfortunately, you don’t get much of him here, despite his billing. But, what we do get is a typically fun performance, if not quite as over-the-top as we’re used to from him (I’ll let you decide if that’s a good or bad thing). Jillian Murray as Stacy holds her own and makes for an interestingly quirky protagonist. Dave Parke gives a fine performance as the gruff Detective Black, but the part of the obligatory cop chasing a cold case that has hounded him for years feels just a bit tacked on.
I’d love to mention the performances of the other actors, but in a very bizarre approach, there is a constant introduction of new characters throughout the entire running time (including right up to just about the end) that starts to make keeping up with them a bit of a chore. Just stick with the main three, however, and you’ll be fine.
The first, and more interesting, half of director Richard Turke’s debut film lands strictly in thriller territory as we’re treated to a pretty effective crime story. Then, the second half kicks the horror into full gear and we’re given a multitude of gore effects that had only been hinted at previously. While decently (but not particularly greatly) done, the effects are overshadowed by the scenery and cinematography, which provides many excellent shots of the mountainside woods featured in the story.
The script, by Turke and Thomas L. Ferguson, was well written for the most part, but would have definitely been served well by some tightening up. In particular, Visible Scars makes the unwise move of having more endings than LOTR: The Return of the King (a reference that has been used more times than Return had endings, so let’s say more endings than Clue: The Movie). Ultimately, it lands on an ending that is far less satisfying than the ones preceding it. All in all, a good effort that, at the very least, points to the possibility of a bright future for Turke.
Jason’s Final Thoughts
Another nail in the coffin of the fledgling Cabin in the Woods department of the travel industry, Visible Scars is certainly good enough for a rental, but is unlikely to compel one to watch it again anytime soon. More importantly, however, it’s a pretty good introduction to a filmmaker that is worth watching out for in the future.
Review by Jason Howard, special to Influx Magazine
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