11th Jun2020

‘Reawakened’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Steffani Brass, Brooke Mackenzie, Tina Cole, Chantelle Albers, Dabier, Charlie Ian, Malcolm Matthews, Ann Tomberlin, Gets Old, Masha Mendieta, Tom Ohmer, Rich Redmond, Carrie Aquino, Wilson Davis, Traveis Lee Eller | Written by Jose Altonaga, Remy MacKenzie | Directed by Jose Altonaga

Evil Town… Evils of the NightReawakened. Three films seemingly with nothing in common, separated by decades. However they have one key thread, Remy MacKenzie.

A casting director on both Evil Town (1977) and Evils of the Night (1985), MacKenzie co-scripted AND produced this film alongside Jose Altonaga – who worked with MacKenzie back in 1989 on Hot Times at Montclair High; directing that teen sex comedy, whilst McKenzie would once again take on the casting role. Since then the pair have made a short together, Five Days in June, back in 2009; and now comes this, a film that feels very reminiscent of 80s shot on video horror AND features a trademark of the films associated with both MacKenzie and Altonaga: the casting of older-generation stars in modern films.

Evil Town had Oscar-nominated Dean Jagger, Evils of the Night featured a bevy of old-school performers like Aldo Ray, Neville Brand and Julie Newmar, Hot Times had Troy Donahue in a starring role and with Reawakened we have Tina Cole – who recently also appeared in the horror The 6th Friend but is most famous for her role in the likes of Hawaiian Eye and My Three Sons in the 60s/70s. The more things change, the more things stay the same I guess!

What also seems to be a common thread – at least in the last couple of MacKenzie and Altonaga productions – is the appearance of actress Brooke MacKenzie… Is she related to Remy perhaps? Daughter, Granddaughter, Niece even? Who knows. But here she’s the co-lead, in the role of Sophia – the young lady who accidentally awakens the spirit of a malevolent witch that died centuries ago… And we all know how that turns out in horror!

Reawakened follows Michele, the sole survivor of a vacation gone horribly wrong, in which several of her friends were murdered. Michele (Steffani Brass) discovers that she is haunted by the spirit of her friend Sophia (Brooke MacKenzie), now possessed by the spirit of a centuries-old witch and responsible for the deaths of both their friends. Told in flashback, Reawakened actually feels, for the most part, like a slasher movie told by the surviving final girl – it even has the perfect setting for such a tale too. The fact that the killer is a supernatural entity doesn’t matter either; after all, by part 6 of the Friday the 13th franchise Jason Vorhees was for all intents and purposes a supernatural entity.

As I mentioned in the opening, Reawakened feels like a shot on video film (even if its clearly shot digitally), the kind of low-budget, more ideas than finances, productions that were churned out during the home video boom. As such, even in terms of independent filmmaking, Reawakened is – visually – a struggle to get through. Footage appears to dark in a number of scenes, the performances of a number of the cast feel very lacklustre and the CGI looks about two decades out of date…

However what sets Reawakened apart from the typical horror though, and moves the film away from the tropes of the slasher genre too, is the present-day portion of the story, as Michele finds herself haunted by her friend. Or is she? There are moments within the film that lead you to question whether Michele IS haunted by her possessed friend Sophia, searching for the book the contains her power, or she’s suffering from survivors guilt, picturing her friend as some sort of monster. Perhaps to rationalise Sophia’s heinous actions on their vacation? That’s what will keep you watching past the films issues, that’s what will hold your attention above everything else.

Reawakened is out now on digital and DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.

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