The Movie Waffler First Look Review - THE ACTIVATED MAN | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - THE ACTIVATED MAN

The Activated Man review
When his beloved dog dies, a man experiences disturbing visions.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Nicholas Gyeney

Starring: Jamie Costa, Tony Todd, Andrew Keegan, Sean Young, Kane Hodder, Scott Brown

The Activated Man poster

Bookended with a young man in a bookstore reading a tome entitled 'The Activated Man', this film tells said book's story.

Ors (Jamie Costa) is tormented by dreams of his beloved dog Louie dying of cancer; he is troubled by the loss and struggling to move past it. Meanwhile there is a murder/suicide epidemic sweeping his city, and authorities have no idea why it's happening.

Ors explains to his wife Sarah (Ivana Rojas) - after another night tossing and turning and waking up screaming - that the world goes "grainy" sometimes, and when that happens he has visions of the late Louie. Instead of recommending a good therapist, she nods in agreement that she understands. Mmmkay.

Their next-door neighbor, as luck would have it, is Jeffrey Bowman (Tony Todd of Candyman), "The World's Greatest Psychic Exorcist’," and he ingratiates himself into the lives of Ors and Sarah at this opportune, occult-friendly time.

The Activated Man review

Ors and Jeffrey meet up in some spiritual shop full of crystals and candles, and there the creature who has been driving poor grieving Ors to distraction makes an appearance in his black cloak and oversized hat, with eyeliner for days – scary! Luckily, Jeffery talks him into protecting himself from the psychic vampire with his mind-power mad skills. Jeffrey calls this creature "The Fedora Man" and tells Ors that he's not crazy – what a relief!

Jeffrey believes that Ors has what it takes to be a giant in the psychic field and he thinks that's why the vampire is trying to destroy him. They take a walk by the beach while Ors' policewoman wife is busy investigating the latest in the string of 45 murder/suicides all within the previous year. Fortunately, she still has time to prepare the seemingly unemployed Ors' favourite meal – "Chicken Paprikash" he brags to Jeffrey.

That night, Sarah and Ors have a violent fight where he yells accusations at her, pulls her about by her hair, hits her and throws her around; but they move on despite the fact that he never apologises – and now I hate him and am angry at the movie.

The Activated Man review

The Fedora Man does evil things. When our "hero" discovers he has abilities and knowledge he hadn't suspected, he visits dear old mum (Blade Runner's Sean Young) to get the low down on why daddy dearest (Kane Hodder of several Friday the 13ths) departed when Ors was a kid (and there's a sweet moment where he discovers he can spend time with his non-communicable mother in "dreamspace"). They all have to "change the world." There's mind control and secret government agencies, there are nightmares and portentous dreams and dodgy cgi, and also quite lovely cgi with ghost Louie.

This film by writer/director Nicholas Gyeney has a few things going for it - the notable names in the cast list are a big draw card; there are some nicely shot sequences and a kind-hearted script - but it stumbles in the execution and lands with all the firepower of a wet squib.

As seems to be the trend with a lot of indie horror films these days, this one is packed to the gills with half baked philosophy and spiritual mumbo jumbo, namechecking everything from reincarnation to astral projection. Low budget directors seem to feel that if they make films about these huge, grand themes then it will impart importance to their movies, but they often don't have the budget to truly make them work, and it makes the film feel overegged. This is overlong and feels padded; a simpler story would have served its central themes much better.

The Activated Man review

With a soundtrack featuring a pulsing beat so close to Halloween I'm surprised John Carpenter hasn't sued, and some less than stellar lighting, there is a lot of room for improvement.

The best thing about this film is the decision to make the motivating death for the aggrieved protagonist the loss of a dog, honouring the love a person feels for their animal and recognising it as just important as the loss of a human, if not more to some people. The ending is also more heartwarming than would be expected for a "horror" film, but I'm not entirely sure this film intended to scare anyone anyway.

Whatever its intentions, some reasonable moments and a good ending do not a good film make, and unfortunately for me, this one failed to activate.

Release details have yet to be announced.

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