THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS (FIRST LOOK):
This ambitious low-budget feature from first-time filmmaker Jeremy Kasten might annoy viewers looking for cheap thrills, but it deserves high marks for its Jacob’s Ladder-style “What the hell is going on here?!” structure. Sure, it’s all style with little real substance, but it also boasts a wonderful supporting cast and imaginative storytelling that piles one twist upon another.
From its opening moments, the film blurs the line between reality and delusion, with Andras Jones starring as poor, beleaguered Trevor Blackburn, who suddenly segues from a romantic scenario to finding himself strapped to a surgical table, his head shaved, being prepped for brain surgery! When Trevor finally awakens, he learns that he’s been comatose for over four years, following the callous murder of his own fiancee, and the heavily medicated guy is soon relocated to a creepy halfway house packed with eccentric outpatients. But even as schizophrenic Trevor hears sounds emanating from a locked trunk in the attic, has flashes of memory about an ancient book and hokey magical rituals and is visited by nis deceased ex (complete with pleasantly gratuitous nudity), there’s one major catch. This is all just a 24/7-monitored experiment, with Trevor as its unknowing guinea pig, which adds yet another layer of questionable reality.
Rogan Russell Marshall’s intriguing script is purposely disjointed, while the garish production design fits the story’s inner workings. Jones’ drab lead performance often undercuts the film’ s unsettling tone, but thankfully, his co-stars manage to save the day. Seth Green steals every scene as fellow resident Douglas, who befriends (and even comes on to) Trevor, and rips loose during the blood-caked finale; Jeffrey Combs chews the backdrops as obsessive sanitarium director Dr. Ek, who rolls joints, shoots up and hopes to unlock the secrets within Trevor’s foggy mind; Ted Raimi is the institute’s newest physician, as well as the only voice of reason; and let’s not forget Alice Cooper’s cameo as an escaped mental patient!
It’s an amusing effort, laced with quirky charms, cool twists and a lovably ambiguous ending.