Saturday, December 21, 2013

Phil's Horror DVD Review: THE BLACK DAHLIA HAUNTING (2012) from Phase 4 Films-December 12, 2013

Starring: Devanny Pinn, Britt Griffith, Noah Dahl, Alexis Iacono, Jessica Cameron, Brandon Slagle
Written by Brandon Slagle 
Cinematography by Jean-Pierre Lefevre
Directed by Brandon Slagle
Released by Phase 4 Films, LLC

Greetings Horror Hounds! Now just because it's Christmas time doesn't mean we still can't celebrate Halloween and all things scary! So I recently purchased a DVD copy of filmmaker Brandon Slagle's indie horror film THE BLACK DAHLIA HAUNTING. I had the privileged of seeing the film last year at Miss Misery's Days of Terror Convention. With the release of his film on the home market, I felt it was time I reprinted my original review of the film for those who missed reading it the first time.

The film's about a young woman named Holly Jenson (Devanny Pinn) who's investigating the murder of her father by her blind younger brother Tyler (portrayed by Noah Dahl). During her investigation, she accidentally awakens the spirit of Elizabeth Short (Alexis Iacono), who is better known as the infamous Black Dahlia. Soon Tyler's physician Dr. Brian Owen (Britt Griffith) begins to suspect something different about Holly, which triggers a deadly secret from his past. Also making a cameo appearance in the film is actress Jessica Cameron portraying a young Norma Jean and Slagle himself as the disturbed Malcolm.

Original Film Festival Poster (2012)
Unlike many of the Hollywood versions of the story, Slagle's take on the famous crime feels like a breath of fresh air. Giving it a supernatural spin, it still stays faithful to the facts about Elizabeth Short, while simultaneously making her and her death even more frightening. Pinn does a fabulous job portraying Holly, combining a hard ass attitude while giving her a sense of vulnerability. Reality star Griffith also deserves credit for his performance as Dr. Owen, who somehow makes us wonder who is exactly and whether or not he can be trusted. Now playing a blind person is enough of a challenge pulling it off and making it believable is even more challenging. So my hat goes off to Dahl's acting chops for making me forget that he was acting. Iacono's performance as Elizabeth Short is scandalous, mysterious, hideous, and demented that I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Now it's a know fact the Short didn't exactly hang in out with the right kind of people, but she did have some decent friends. Iacono's scene with Cameron's Norma Jean was very sweet and gave depth to Short's personality.

Shot in 10 days, Slagle's directing is stupendous, giving the ridiculous short time frame he had (he basically made the film on weekends!). There are some terrific shots and set ups that drive the film. One scene I recall that was very effective were the scenes shot in the cave with Holly "talking" to herself. This scene is a simple scene to shoot, but with Pinn's powerful acting combined with Slagle's directing style, it's one of the most effective and disturbing scenes in the film (there is an even more disturbing scene that unfortunately I cannot disclose. But let me say this: it's not for the faint of heart).

All in all THE BLACK DAHLIA HAUNTING is a great indie horror gem that all of you should definitely see! It makes an excellent Christmas gift for any die hard horror fanatic! So track down this film and help support great indie horror films such as this! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE BLACK DAHLIA HAUNTING is currently available on DVD at your local retailer. You can also purchase a copy at the Amazon website at Also look for it in RedBox and iTunes as well.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

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