Its 12:57 am
Once in a blue moon the cheetah and I will get sent an email from a indie film producer/actor/director of their project. The vast majority of these are short films like “Trapped Magic” or “Nox“. So it is always a suprise to see a full length feature film coming down the pike. Well we were recently surprised when Writer/director John McLoughlin sent us his feature film “Underwood”.
You have to love indie film makers…..working on tight/no budgets,non-experienced casts,very little effects,small crews and a host of other problems they face in getting their films done. For John,it took him and his team 5 years to get “Underwood” made,it was as he put it,”a labor of love”. The question we’re asking is “Will the cheetah and I love it as well”?
The film opens up a young couple waking up together. Samantha (Michelle McCurry) is a famous novelist while her boyfriend Tom (Jessie Hollenbach) is doing very well as a businessman.
Samantha,who is wrapping up a book tour in her Florida hometown,is struggling with writer’s block so Tom has rented her a cabin in a small town an hour upstate where she’ll have some peace and quiet and hopefully do some writing. Tom is planning on joining her after he wraps some business up.
Samantha takes her dog and travels up north where she finds the cabin,Tom has told her that no one has lived there for decades and it looks he was right as Samantha spends her first day cleaning. She peers outside and watches some young people swim off her dock.
Things start to get weird when Samantha cleans a mirror and when she steps away,a ghostly figure of a young blonde is there looking back. Then on her lap top,a message of “help me” is typed over and over but again Samantha misses this as she shuts down her lap top and goes for a walk.
Its during this walk that she meets Gladys (scene stealer Fran Rimondi) an old cantankerous neighbor. The two women bump noses before Samantha heads into town and finds a small general store run by a nice old guy named Al. Samantha runs into Gladys again but the two part on somewhat better terms…Samantha tells Al that Gladys is flirting with him.
In exploring the property,Samantha runs across an old Underwood typewriter and decides to use it in her writing.
That night after drinking a lot of wine (Samantha loves her wine!),she falls asleep and starts dreaming about seeing a young couple,the same blonde we have seen before and a young man in a Army uniform. As she watches them,a 2nd man startles Samanatha he walks by but doesn’t know Samantha is there,the three people talk among themselves,the two men are brothers and both love the same girl but the older brother doesn’t know that. He is headed for Vietnam and he asks his brother to watch over Sarah.
Samantha wakes up and is pondering what she dreamt when she sees she has written the story out on the Underwood typewriter but she has no idea how she did it.
Its when Samantha takes a swim and sees Sarah in the water that Samantha knows something strange is going on and it involves the cabin she is in.
When she see dreams again and sees what happens to both Sarah and her beau and once again its in written form,Samantha starts to poke around not knowing there are a lot of people who want to leave the past in the past…..no matter the cost.
So how did we like “Underwood”? For what it is and how it was made,we loved its heart.
Other then an absolutely horrible “acting” role by Amy France as Julia,the rest of the cast was okay,not the strongest performances but we have seen a lot worse. Fran Rimondi steals every scene she is on as sassy Gladys and Michael Radford who plays Tanner,has the white trash role down pat,Rimondi and Radford would have made a great movie pairing themselves.
William Grefe made for a good ally and friend for Samantha in playing the kindly Al.
He had a nice Fred Gwynne quality about him and after Rimondi was the best actor in “Underwood”.
Michelle McCurry who plays Samantha was a little all over the place,some scenes she was pretty spirited in some scenes but you can tell she isn’t an actress. She does have a nice figure as she was once in Playboy and has stayed in great shape at 39 years old.
What is hard when a film takes so long to film,is its very uneven,the flow is very choppy and its very hard to edit shoots that may have been done a year or more apart. Characters hair colors and length change from shot to shot,pick up shots are cobbled in,it makes for a rough viewing but John McLoughlin does his best with what he has and the story itself is a good mystery and very well hidden. There are plenty of red herrings and suspects to chose from and not everyone is who they appear to be.
All in all,we were okay with “Underwood” and we would like to see what John could do with a bigger budget and slightly more experienced actors.
“Underwood” has a run time of 93 minutes and should be considered a “R” rating.
There were no special features on my screener.
The cheetah and I gave “Underwood” a thumbs up for its heart. The indie film world is not easy.
You can visit Inertia Digitial Media for more information about “Underwood”.
What has been your latest watched film? Let us know by dropping a comment!