20th Jul2017

‘Darker Shades of Elise’ DVD Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Becca Hirani, Tommy Vilés, Arron Blake, Darcie Lincoln, David Royal, Tara MacGowran, Kate Lush, Charlene Cooper, Tony Manders, Tessa Hart | Written by Shannon Holiday | Directed by Jamie Weston

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Having given up a career as a model and actress to start a family, Elise (Becca Hirani) suffers a miscarriage. Struggling to deal with the event her husband Rick Styles (Tommy Vilés) distances himself through his work and Elise suspects infidelity. When following Rick to confront him, Elise has a chance meeting with an alluring photographer, Felix (Arron Blake), who gives her the attention she craves. As an illicit affair begins, Felix encourages Elsie to explore her sexuality, not just with him, but also other men he introduces her too. It seems fun at first, but when Elise decides she wants to end the affair, things take a darker turn.

Darker Shades of Elise is one of the most surprising films I have seen this year. It will challenge many people’s preconceptions who expect it to be a film focusing solely on a series of sexual encounters. Though the film delivers several erotic sex scenes in its first half, it eventually unveils an underlining narrative built on deceit, jealousy and manipulation.

As Elsie begins an affair, it feels as though Felix is helping her regain her self-confidence. Guiding her on a journey into sexual fulfilment, she uses the experience to fill the void of being neglected by her husband.  Things dramatically change when she decides to end the relationship, which brings the true possessive nature of Felix to the forefront. Unwilling to accept it’s over, Felix continues to torment Elise using footage of her with other men to maintain control.

Arron Blake plays the charismatic stranger well, but it’s when he is at his most vindictive that he really shines, as his constant torment on Elise is coupled with remarks of gestured love and affection. This is personified in one of the most difficult scenes to watch, where Elise is blackmailed into performing a sexual act with three other men. In the scene, Felix remains unrelenting as he persists to interact with Elise whilst filming her torment, ensuring she remains submissive to his requests as he attempts to break her down. It really changes the perspective of the film on second viewing, as you see Felix’s empowering of Elise take on a more manipulative and sinister side.

The films main lead, Becca Hirani, has is a real connection and chemistry with the main cast and really stands out in her emotional portrayal of Elise. Hirani conveys the mixture of emotions perfectly on the screen to create a strong and compelling character who continually evolves throughout the course of the film. She will be appearing in several films this year, but Darker Shades of Elise is the film which has really shown her potential, as you become emotionally engaged with her character.

The film looks stunning, having been shot in 4k, but the scenes still hold an element of rawness, making the interactions feel personal and not over-glamorised. Overall, this is a well thought out erotic thriller, which though raw, still maintains a natural feel to its story. As expected, there is plenty of sexuality to the first half of the film, but it quickly takes a darker turn in its second half, leading to a rather brutal and bloody ending. Ignoring similarities to another title, Darker Shades of Elise stands on its own as a thriller which is worth watching.

Darker Shades of Elise is released on DVD on July 24th, courtesy of Left Films.

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