October Moon

Year: 2005
Director: Jason Paul Collum
Cast: Sean Michael Lambrecht, Jeff Dylan Graham, Jerod Howard, Brinke Stevens, Judith O'Dea

Contrary to my initial assumption, "October Moon" really isn't a horror movie. Not that there aren't some rather disturbing moments present, but the film plays itself out more like a psychological drama in the vain of "Fatal Attraction" (yes, the comparison is inevitable) rather than your typical slasher film.

The film centers around Corin, a thirty year old professional, and his younger, party-loving boyfriend Jake. The two have been together for awhile. but it is obvious that all is not rosy in their relationship. While Corin has settled down and likes to spend quiet evenings at home, Jake still loves the "bar" scene, and often views his relationship with Corin as holding him back from enjoying his youth. At work, Corin is able to confide in his boss and good friend Nancy (Brinke Stevens) about his relationship troubles. She listens with a caring ear and seems to be the only person to really understand him. Due to an increased work load and his unstable home life with Jake, Nancy decides to hire an assistant of sorts named Elliot to help Corin with some of his duties. At first, Elliot is awkward and somewhat naive, but likable nonetheless. Corin learns that Elliot lives with his over-protective mother (Judith O'Dea) and is engaged to be married to long-time girlfriend, Marti. Corin begins spending some time outside of work with Elliot, inviting him home and to various outings. Before long, Elliot begins to develop feelings for Corin and realizes that he is a homosexual. This causes severe mixed emotions in him; his mother is deeply against this lifestyle because he husband left her years earlier for another man. With no real support for his new feelings, Elliot's feelings for Corin begin to become a dangerous and disturbing obsession, resulting in a dark, depressing climax.

"October Moon" is truly a character driven story and because of this, may cause some viewers to lose interest. No real action occurs until the films final moments, but the build-up is almost more intense. Elliot's behavior does become more and more disturbing and where the film excels is in its believability. The characters actions and reactions are realistic and because the characters are developed extremely well, it is easy to sympathize with their individual situations. Even at the end of the film, it is hard to really blame Elliot for his actions; he desperately just wanted to be loved and accepted, and like many gay men, the emotions that came with falling for another man, when his entire life he had been told how wrong that was, were almost too much to handle. The writers takes careful steps to ensure that Elliot never becomes a despicable character and it works to the film's benefit. While there is some clich├ęd and dialogue steeped with stereotypes, overall, it does an adequate job of moving the plot along and creating interesting characters.

The biggest flaw present in "October Moon" is certainly its low-budget, resulting in extremely amateur looking production values. For example, the picture looks dated and often times is no better quality than you'd get with an old hand-held camera. The sound fades in and out in many spots, making conversations hard to comprehend. These issues don't necessarily make this a bad film, but do, at times, make it hard to take seriously. The acting really is a mixed bag; the actors portraying Corin and Jake are adequate, but often times some cheesy dialogue hinders their performances. Jerod Howard is effective as Elliot, but some particular scenes seem to put noticeable strain on his range as an actor. Horror veterans Brinke Stevens and Judith O'Dea are both serviceable, but criminally underused. What is really distracting about the performances is that in some scenes, the actors are brilliant, but in the very next scene, verge on being terrible. The climax is rushed and, while somewhat effective, doesn't pack the punch that it really could have.

Overall, "October Moon" is an interesting, engaging little independent film. Like so many other low-budget films out there, it is very apparent that the filmmakers actually cared about the final product and did the best of their ability and resources to make a decent film. While those expecting gore and non-stop action will likely become extremely bored with "October Moon," it is an effective that not only cares about its characters and presents a believable portrait of obsession and desperation, it subtly makes a statement about expectations, relationships, and the consequences of intolerance. It's a slow burn, but "October Moon" is an effective, creepy film that puts substance before style; the end result and a memorable portrait of love gone wrong on many levels.

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