It’s time for another episode of “TerrorScribe Confessions.”
If you missed the previous episode, we won’t recap the horrible and embarrassing events of that night. Suffice it to say that powdered lime works exactly how they say it does and that I will never look at a Jello pudding pop the same way again.
This week’s confession: it’s taken me three tries to watch this movie.
The movie in question is “Walking Distance”, the sophomore effort from Houston-based director Mel House. The movie centers around hotshot neurologist, Cole Gray (Denton Blane Everett), who’s landed a research position with the secretive Facility, located in his hometown of Twinbrooke Court. But all is not sunshine and bunnies there. Mysterious sinkholes are appearing, people are disappearing and there are some in town who think that the Facility is behind it all. What is really happening in Twinebrooke Court? Who are all those strange burning people? Most importantly, where can I get that awesome Trogdor game?
“Walking Distance” is a trippy, disturbing journey through familiar territory. It felt like someone had taken some of my favorite comic books, soaked them in LSD and then handed them back to me to read. Sure, everything seems fine and normal… for the most part, but the farther you go into it, you start finding little unexpected nuggets of madness, wicked little tendrils that snake around you and draw you into a nightmare in sleep’s clothing. House infuses the movie with a dreamlike quality interspersed bits of reality and then sudden disturbing excursions down dark, twisted paths. Decorating these pathways are some brilliant practical effects. There are fair amounts of goop, gore and blood and a couple of creative and nicely done kills. In a film with a bigger budget, they would have spent some insane amount of money for some CG effect that would have been half as believable. It’s a lesson Hollywood would do well to remember: sometimes the old ways are the best.
Still, a journey like the one I’ve described is difficult to take if you don’t have the cast to pull it off. Luckily, “Walking Distance” does. In addition to a relatively talented young cast, you also have sprinkled into the mix genre favorites Reggie Bannister, Debbie Rochon and Shannon Lark, veteran actors Glenn Morshower and Kathy Lamkin, “Paranormal Activity” star, Katie Featherstone and even horror icon Adrienne King (whose last turn on the silver screen was in 1981’s “Friday the 13th Part 2”). It’s a shame we haven’t seen her in almost thirty years. She truly shines in her role as Facility administrator, Louise Strack, and not just because of how she’s lit. I think she brings an extra layer of subtlety and a certain grace to her role that give Strack additional depth.
Of course, as a small budget film, there are going to be some things that are going to grate on the eye of a spoiled movie watcher. Even the third time through, some of the CG they used still looks bad. I know it’s just the nature of the beast, but I can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t a practical solution that they couldn’t have just enhanced with CG instead of creating it entirely digitally. If I had to have another gripe with the film, it would be that the ending felt a bit abrupt: not disappointing, though – just abrupt.
I guess the third time’s the charm for me. “Walking Distance” takes some familiar tropes, dips them in crazy sauce and serves them piping hot with a side of blood and nightmare.