Film Review: Cassadaga

Anthony DiBlasi’s Cassadaga is a horror-thriller with some good set pieces. The film is let down by a lack of real tension, however.

Following the death of her younger sister, Lily Morel moves to Cassadaga, hoping to find peace after her bereavement. When Lily tries to contact her sister during a seance, the spirit of another comes through. Lily is haunted by this ghost, leading her to attempt to find a killer…

Cassadaga combines supernatural elements of horror with the mystery of a crime thriller. The film is a ghost story as well as a murder mystery. These two elements are uneasy bedfellows at times. The balance between them definitely shifts during the course of the film. Cassadaga definitely feels like more of a ghost story, with the serial killer becoming more prominent in the second half of the film.

Screenwriters Bruce Wood and Scott Poiley have created an interesting enough protagonist in Lily. She has enough depth for the audience to care about her outcome. Dialogue is sometimes a bit unnatural, however. The pacing of Cassadaga could also have been tightened. The main problem with the film is that is does not build tension effectively enough. There should be more apprehension in the initial seance scene and the haunting, and the serial killer climax should have been tense. Instead, it falls a little flat.

The marionette sequences are the most effective in the film. There is a dankness to the surroundings of Geppetto which works well. Art direction and effects are particularly successful in these scenes. The images are striking; it is a shame that the characterisation of the serial killer is not more interesting.

Kelen Coleman does a suitable job as Lily. Her scenes with Sarah Sculco’s Michelle are the most authentic in the film. Kevin Alejandro struggle with a limited script meanwhile.

Cassadaga features an interesting premise and some good scenes, but its lack of tension when desperately needed renders the film rather forgettable.

Cassadaga is out on DVD on 16th April 2012.