15th Feb2018

‘The Ballerina’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Steve Pullen, Isabella Pullen, Peggy Pullen, Charles Pullen, Bronson Pullen, Joseph Pullen, Cheyenne Fridley. Valli Downey, Deena Dill, Del Crawford, Aidan Dunlap, Alexandra Pouloutides | Written and Directed by Steve Pullen


On the run from Child Protective Services, Glenn and his nine-year- old daughter, Sophia, disappear into the swampy Virginia backwoods. In hiding they live off the land in a tattered tent, keeping a safe distance from other homeless outcasts and the gangs of rednecks who occupy the forest. The tragedy that has brought father and daughter to this desperate place has also torn a crater-like hole in their shattered lives, leaving the girl defenceless against nightly hauntings by ghosts who encircle the tent and breathe threats to carry her away. As the hauntings become increasingly violent and terrifying her father is forced to try everything in his power to free his daughter from the grip of this nightly torment. Can his efforts save Sophia before she succumbs to the spirits who haunt the forest?

Well someone has read, or watched the movie version of, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road waaaay too many times! For that’s exactly what has inspired The Ballerina – a film whose title is the most tenuous of links to what occurs in the film (the young girl wears to tutu – and there’s a dancing ghost – that’s about it).

Essentially a star vehicle for writer/director and actor Steve Pullen (and his entire family it seems – just look at the sheer number of “Pullen’s” listed in the credits above!) the film, billed as a slice of Southern Gothic horror, features little horror, a plot that goes nowhere and has little directorial flair. What you do get is a long drawn out film whose only saving grace is the ghosts that haunt the films young heroine. When they show up, which is frankly all too infrequently, The Ballerina at least gets somewhat interesting – even if some of the effects work looks like it’s come out of a SFX starter kit for kids! I could have also done with less of Pullen’s reliance on a green glowing light and some creepy voices on the soundtrack in place of actual ghosts.

Yes, there’s some decent, and thankfully spooky, imagery at work here but that can’t compensate for the lack of any other real substance to the film. However The Ballerina‘s real problem is that it’s just dull. Which is a shame as that means audiences are likely to tune out, or worse switch off, the film before Pullen finally manages to offer an explanation for what is happening – for it’s that explanation that delivers on the Southern Gothic that the audience were promised; and delivers on the real horror behind this tale… A horror that parents will find all too real, and all too close to home.

The Ballerina is out now on DVD and digital download from 101 Films.

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