Tag Archives: Psychological Thriller

PSYCHO IN THE WATER BY KENT HILL

Rolfe Kanefsky is back at it again, impressing the hell outta me by doing so much on a budget. This time there’s no possessed paintings that help plug you in to the terror. No dear readers….if there is a pool in your backyard…YOU…COULD…BE….NEXT!

In this engrossing hybrid, Kanefsky takes elements of FEAR (1996), PACIFIC HEIGHTS and Hitchcock’s PSYCHO and fuses them into this impressive debt of one, Tanner Zagarino. Yes, Zagarino. Readers out there familiar with the SHADOWCHASER movies will thrill to learn Tanner is the son of the man, the legend, Frank Zagarino. And, let me tell you, I can’t wait to see this young fella progress. He goes from Prince Charming to Norman Bates in the batting of an eyelash, and there are moments when Tanner’s character is at his silently starring at you from distance best. Those are the same menacing eyes I see in his father watching SHADOWCHASER and it was a shiver up my spine kinda time.

The strong female lead of the movie, Jessica Morris, is so dependable and I love her work under Kanefsky’s direction. It was a thrill at last to catch up with Sarah French, who gets to be that all-important first victim. The cast is rounded out with solid performances, and Rolfe is good at building tension and anticipation of the moment; the reason I feel he is a luminous presence and original voice in this genre he seems to command.

Pool Boy Nightmare is a sexy suspense thriller about Gale (Jessica Morris, Art of the Dead) a divorced woman and her 18 year old daughter, Becca (Ellie-Darcey Alden, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) who have just moved into a new home that comes with a beautiful pool in the back yard. Gale hires Adam (Tanner Zagarino, son of action star Frank Zagarino, in his film debut), a local pool boy who used to work for the previous owner, Rhonda (Sarah French, Automation) who died in a “freak drowning” accident. Turns out that Adam has a thing for older women and has a fling with Gale. Knowing she made a mistake, Gale ends the affair quickly but Adam is a very determined young man. He starts dating Becca, Gale’s daughter, to make Gale jealous. As the twisted love triangle heats up, danger also mounts since Adam will do just about anything to get the woman he wants! As Jackie, Becca’s best friend (Cynthia Aileen Strahan, Art of the Dead) and Gale’s ex-husband, Tony (Clark Moore, Stumptown) soon discover, Adam is not only obsessed but very dangerous! In the end, nobody is safe from this POOL BOY NIGHTMARE!

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT:

Although Rolfe Kanefsky has been writing and directing movies for over thirty years in multiple genres, this is the first time he has both written and directed a Lifetime thriller with POOL BOY NIGHTMARE. Rolfe has worked in the Lifetime world for years, having authored the productions of “WATCH YOUR BACK” aka “KILLER PHOTO” starring AnnaLynne McCord, “DEADLY SORORITY” with Greer Grammar and Moira Kelly, as well as “STALKED BY MY PATIENT”, “DEADLY VOWS” and “THE WRONG BABYSITTER” starring Daphne Zuniga.

Being a big fan of classic television thrillers from the ’70s and ’80s, Rolfe saw this as an opportunity to embrace the feel that Steven Spielberg created with his first television movies like “DUEL” and “SOMETHING EVIL” as well as Dan Curtis’ classics “THE NIGHT STRANGLER”, “TRILOGY OF TERROR” and “DEAD OF NIGHT”.

“I wanted to make something sexy and suspenseful that still fit in the Lifetime mode but created some visual tension and a little more style that is currently found in today’s television thrillers. Although we didn’t have a lot of time or money, I was determined to shoot this as a real theatrical movie. Getting my DP, Michale Su, who has shot my last two flicks, “ART OF THE DEAD” and “BUS PARTY TO HELL” was a great help and we pulled off some great moments of tension and action. I was also able to pull together a great cast. I wrote the script with Jessica Morris is mind to play Gale. Having recently worked with her in ART OF THE DEAD and her track record with these kind of thrillers, she was perfect and glorious in this role. I was also able to get Cynthia Aileen Strahan and Sarah French into the cast. They were also recently in my ART OF THE DEAD flick and fantastic as always. I was excited to discover two overall newcomers. Ellie-Darcey Alden sent in an audition tape which impressed me. When she came in for a callback, I was even more impressed to find out that she was British, having done a flawless American accent. Ellie had a small part in one of the Harry Potter movies when she was very young. I knew she and Jessica, playing mother and daughter, would really capture the dramatic moments of the piece and their scenes together are some of the highlights, elevating the acting that is usually found in these kind of movies.”

“And then there’s the “pool boy” himself. In his first acting job ever, Tanner Zagarino landed the role of Adam, the dangerously sexy villain. The funny thing about this casting is that I immediately recognized Tanner’s last name, Zagarino because years ago, I had worked with an actor named Frank Zagarino who made a lot of B action and sci-fi films back in the day. I had written an action thriller script called “SHATTERED LIES” that starred Frank Zagarino and his wife, Elizabeth Giordano. They also produced the film and happen to be the father and mother of Tanner. I think Tanner was like 3 or 4 years old at the time. So, cut to 17 years later and I’m directing their son in his first motion picture. It’s a small world.”

Now I present my chats with wonderful and beautiful Sarah French, and the talented breakout Tanner Zagarino….

TANNER ZAGARINO

SARAH FRENCH

POOL BOY NIGHTMARE premieres on The Lifetime Channel on Labor Day, Monday, September 7th at 8:00 pm as part of their “End Of The Summer Marathon”. It plays again later that night and the following Sunday, September 13th at 7:00 pm and throughout the month. Check your local listings for showtimes and airings. Visit MyLifetime.

STEVEN SODERBERGH’S SIDE EFFECTS — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Side Effects is a slick, smart, and deceptively layered thriller from Steven Soderbergh and writer Scott Z. Burns, who before this under the radar gem crafted the irreverent comedic masterwork The Informant! Side Effects is an extremely stylish head game that loves toying with the audience at all times, and it also happens to be very sexy, which is something that Soderbergh isn’t routinely known for; this is one of the more juicy and nervy offerings from this most eclectic filmmaker. Rooney Mara was absolutely terrific (not to mention disturbingly hot) and Jude Law was the perfect chump to get pulled into her web of potential deceit with possibly dangerous ramifications. The entire cast shines due to an unpredictable narrative that makes your head spin during the final reel, and as usual for Soderbergh, the film is just as interesting for what it doesn’t do than for what it does do. Upending conventions is Soderbergh’s typical stock in trade, and while this film was marketed as one thing, it really was something totally different than what had been suggested or what might be expected. This is one to watch again and again in order to fully appreciate all of the cinematic sleight of hand on display; it’s Soderbergh’s ode to Hitchcock. Also, Vinessa Shaw, as usual, was fantastic – she needs more work!

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ALEX ROSS PERRY’S QUEEN OF EARTH — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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I recently had two viewings of Queen of Earth on successive nights and the film has stuck with me ever since. This one won’t be for everyone. It’s challenging, it’s uncompromising, and it features a riveting lead performance from the stunningly talented actress Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men, Top of the Lake) that will leave you emotionally drained by the end of the 90 minute run time. Up and coming filmmaker Alex Ross Perry (last year’s bitterly funny Listen Up Philip, which also starred Moss) could do a lot worse than be wholly inspired by Robert Altman’s one of a kind masterpiece 3 Women, and even if Queen of Earth isn’t on that level (NOTHING could ever be…) I’d rather see a young talent emulating Altman as opposed to half-dozen other filmmakers I won’t mention. This is the sort of film that isn’t really “about” anything tangible, but rather, it’s an intensely internalized piece of storytelling that holds at its center the chance for an actress to go to some genuinely pained places as an artist. And it’s unquestionably one of the most unique films I’ve seen all year, a bold piece of work that feels crafted by a smart group of collaborators who knew exactly the story they wanted to tell.

There’s an unnerving quality to much of the film, due largely in part to the ominous score by Keegan DeWitt and the measured, highly stylized cinematography by Sean Price Williams. The elliptical editing by Robert Greene only intensifies the unpredictability and vulnerability being demonstrated by Moss, and the sense of uncertainty being felt by Waterston. Perry’s film centers on Catherine (Moss), a psychologically fragile woman who is still suffering the traumatic effects of her father’s recent suicide, who reconnects with an old friend (Katherine Waterston, making good on her promise from Inherent Vice) at a cabin in the woods, trying to calm her life down. But that’s not going to happen. It’s pretty clear from the get-go that this isn’t going to happen. So you just watch as Moss presents the ultimate portrait of a person coming apart at the seams, unable to gather her thoughts coherently, and the way that Perry doles out implied backstory and various narrative clues demands that viewers actively engage with the film rather than passively experiencing it. I have a lot of respect and admiration for the filmmaking, for Moss, and for the overall ambition on display, but it’s a film that will likely leave many people feeling uncomfortable, if for no other reason than it literally feels like you’re a secret guest to a mental breakdown, which is something that many individuals just won’t want to deal with when deciding what movie to watch on a Friday night.

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