Receiving a world premiere at the London Frightfest and subsequent US premiere at the New York City Horror Festival, Random Media’s psychological drama Diane is now getting a limited US theatrical – and nationwide cable and VOD – release.
International audiences will have to keep their eyes open for this one, which should be hopeful considering that the film has a fair amount of intrigue and mystery within its narrative, punctuated by a very simple set-up and setting.
Written and directed by Michael Mongillo and adapted from an original screenplay (Death Special by Matt Giannini), Diane is the tale of Afghan War veteran Steve (Jason Alan Smith, who also serves as an executive producer on the film). His post-war life has become pretty mundane, tinkering with various things in his garage and dealing with a limp with a cane. However, his home life is about to be shattered with the discovery of a body which is revealed belongs to local lounge singer Diane (Carlee Avers).
The discovery naturally leads the local police to feel that Steve has done wrong here, and decide to haul him in for questioning. Released without charge, but nonetheless remaining under suspicion from all comers, notably after the local news broadcasts his picture amidst the grisly revelation in his garden, Steve begins to get hallucinations of a ghostly return from Diane, whilst trying to overcome his own demons and dark thoughts.
Stylistically dark and broody at times, Diane is a contrast from other films in the genre, not least in that while it takes the conventions of ghostly reflection and psychology as a start-off point, the film builds with gradual pace towards a climax that is thought-provoking, not just in the revelation, but in terms of the message it sends to the audience. Good performances from Smith and Avers heighten the film.
An element that works well here is usage of modern horror image convention in films like Paranormal Activity to throw audiences expecting a certain kind of horror film, but easing them towards a different outcome.
Diane is not without its flaws. The logistics of the crime scene where Diane’s body is found might bemuse one or two eagle-eyed and sharp-minded viewers, but if you are willing to allow artistic licence – and a little bit of suspended disbelief – then you will have little trouble buying into the drama unfolding.
DIANE / DIRECTOR: MICHAEL MONGILLO / SCREENPLAY: MATT GIANNINI, MICHAEL MONGILLO / STARRING: JASON ALAN SMITH, CARLEE AVERS, MARGARET ROSE CHAMPAGNE / CERT: TBC / RELEASE DATE: 17TH SEPTEMBER 2018