*Full disclosure: a screener was provided by Lightning Entertainment for review, through contact with director John V. Soto.
Director: John V. Soto.
Writers: Anthony Egan and John V. Soto.
John V. Soto seems to be the master of Australian horror, with three ward winning titles now under his belt. Two of these were directed by Soto, with “Crush” his previous effort. Now his latest is Filmscope Entertainment’s “Needle.” The film is set in a college within, or around the city of Perth, Australia. Here, a tale of revenge and horror liquefies many of the central protagonist’s friends, in a grisly fashion. Ben is no slouch in the detective field, however, and with help from a ostracized brother, there is hope in finding a mysterious killer.
The plot follows one of revenge, with an abused and traumatized killer taking his or her frustrations out on others. The home life of an orphan is apparently one of abuse and horror, which is a strange recurring theme in media portrayals of foster homes. The abuse twists and distorts this character’s view of others, until they are seen as nothing other than objects deserving bloody retribution. And the pain they suffer, via a French curse, is one which will linger long after the final reels are still.
Director Soto creates his mythos in 19th Century France, where a travelling horror show produces supernatural oddities. The mechanical instrument known as the Le Vaudou Mort makes its way cross global in search of ever more victims. In Perth, a family feud leaves many characters struggling for life, as friend turns to foe and brothers turn from bitter rivals into a something more friendly. Yet, with curses, which have been around since the beginning of Greek Tragedy, there is an unstoppable power, which often requires ever more carnage.
Soto creates several misdirections and dead ends in “Needle,” which will leave many viewers wondering who the killer is. The why is revealed in the end (hinted to above) and it is the use of conflicted interaction, which creates for many suspects. This makes the killer’s identity almost unattainable. However, if one looks closely at a gloved hand here, or listens closely to the story there, this sadist’s identity slowly bubbles to the surface of the viewer’s consciousness. The final character reveal is worth waiting for!
On the other side of the coin, critiques involve some overly dark lighting in certain key scenes. As well, the hero, played by Michael Dorman, is just a little too clean cut and unflawed. A sub-plot develops early in the story, where Ben blames his brother Marcus (Travis Fimmel) for his father’s tragic death. However, his pretty boy good looks, straight and narrow life path, and access to endless opportunities seems a little too hard to swallow. A juxtaposition would be appropriate here, where Marcus instead blames Ben for his father’s death. This would have created an additional dimension for Soto’s key and near faultless character.
On the whole, “Needle” is an interesting well executed thriller, with plenty of twists and turns to entertain horror fans. Mystery is an element which seems almost inherent to the film and while the killer can be identified about halfway through the film; the questioning and double guessing of the killer’s identity is what is important.
“Needle” is currently being developed by Lightning Entertainment for a possible release in North America. Yet, there are no current release dates for this territory. The film has been sold in Mexico, Australia, South Africa, the UK and a few other smaller countries. Hopefully, horror and thriller fans globally and locally get a taste for suspensful filmmaking in “Needle,” later this year!
Overall: 8 out of 10 (-1 for the writing in regards to the character Ben, -.5 for some darkness, and -.5 for making the killer’s actions a little too predictable, well done overall).
More on this film can be found at the “Needle”homepage:
Or at Lightning Entertainment:
Needle’s fan page on Facebook:
A second review of the film at Killer Film: