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She Rises (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

She Rises

SHE RISES (2016)

Starring Angus Macfadyen, Jennifer Blanc, Daisy McCrackin, Michael Biehn, Lorraine Ziff, Larry Wade Carrell, Nick W. Nicholson, Hallie Jordan, Jenise Blanc, Jason Aaron Moran, Danielle Artigo, Randy Chance, Jay Lobit and Christopher Jiminez.

Screenplay by Angus Macfadyen.

Directed by Larry Wade Carrell.

Distributed by Blanc/Biehn Productions. 90 minutes. Not Rated.

She Rises is an exceedingly odd mind-fuck of a horror film, but you have to give the filmmakers a certain amount of credit for bravery. At different points in the film, it seems to be a horror film, a series of fantasy dream sequences, a comedy, a musical, an erotic thriller, a Shakespeare performance, a surreal lampoon, a tribute to several classic horror movies, a film-in-a-film puzzle box. By the end of the movie you have no clue what the fuck really happened, but you do have to admit they were not afraid to take chances.

I just wish that these chances added up to more than this pretty muddled, Dali-esque variation on a very standard horror set-up.

Made with gonzo grindhouse economy by the production company of married co-stars Jennifer Blanc (The Victim) and Michael Biehn (The Terminator), for the most part She Rises revolves around four characters.

Kat (Blanc) and Conor (Angus Macfadyen of Braveheart) are a couple of Hollywood small-timers who are driving through a hazy wooded area in search of a horror film set they are to work on; he is a never-been star who overestimates his talents, she is a cynical makeup artist with aspirations to direct. One night they get lost deep in the heart of the woods (you’d think GPS would have killed off this particular sub-genre, but it seems to be going strong) and end up stopping to get directions at a remote farmhouse.

They are met by the woman of the house, Rosebud (Daisy McCrackin), a beautiful and apparently naïve homeowner who seems to become more unhinged as time goes on. She lives there with her near-autistic father “Daddy Longlegs” (Biehn), who rarely speaks but keeps a wary, threatening eye on all that is going on. Rosebud convinces them to stay overnight, but as Conor tries to use his Hollywood pizazz to seduce Rosebud, they all get stuck in a series of sexually violent dream sequences.

Macfadyen can be a very capable actor when a director reins in his natural inclination to be a ham. Since the film also has a screenplay by Macfadyen (though honestly, much of this feels improvised) and he’s pretty much as big a name as there is in the cast and crew (only Michael Biehn is arguably bigger), Macfadyen pretty much is allowed to go hog wild. His actor character of Conor preens, leers, slurs, purrs, gasps, cries, wears a woman’s nightgown, constantly quotes films and gives wild-eyed performances of a few Shakespearian soliloquies.

McCrackin also goes way over the top in the role of Rosebud, eventually literally howling at the moon.

Biehn, on the other hand, is extremely effective in a nearly-pantomime performance as the mentally defective head of the household named Daddy Longlegs. He doesn’t say much (I think he had two passages of dialogue in the entire film, and one of them is in the character of “actor Michael Biehn,” who is playing the character of “Daddy Longlegs.”)

She Rises has a few “dream sequences” which are essentially word-by-word replays of scenes in Psycho, The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby and even Hamlet. (Quotes from many other classic films, including Casablanca, Spartacus and The Exorcist are sprinkled throughout the film.) Reminders of these much better horror films do She Rises no favors, despite being a bit of a post-modern kick for the viewer.

The violence and sex mostly seems – seems – to be going on in the heads of the principal characters, so in the long run the audience is scrambling to figure out what, if anything, has really happened. For example, there is one scene where the movie-makers pay tribute to the Psycho shower scene. A matter of seconds after a character is sliced up in the bathtub, that same character is still alive, now doing one of Jack Nicholson’s rants from The Shining.

She Rises has apparently been in the can for a few years now – the end credits read copyright 2016 – but online there are stories about the release of the film going back to early 2014.

Honestly, while She Rises has some good moments, I can see why it has been such a hard sell to get it out there. Sadly, She Rises has become a little too self-consciously arty and twisty for its own good. In the end, the audience gets exhausted trying to figure out what (if anything) is supposed to be real. If we don’t know what’s happening, how can we build up any kind of rooting interest for any of the characters?

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: July 3, 2017.

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