Suburban Nightmare

Suburban Nightmare

This is the second straight to DVD film in the 'Nightmare' series although sharing no link to American Nightmare (2002). Deborah and Charles Rosenblad (Brandy Little and Trent Haaga respectively) are your typical suburban family with a nice home and a young daughter, Becky (Hayden Tweedie). The Rosenblads are going through a marital crisis at the moment because Charles is not being sensitive to Deborah's needs. Oh, and they are serial killers´┐Ż

The film starts with some sepia footage and voice over narration by the two leads setting up the back-story; that they are very much in love and that they have killed people in the past. We then move into the present with Charles preparing a meal for guests that he has invited over, Deborah had forgotten about this; cue domestic.

Deborah decides to go along with the meal but when Charles kills the guests 'out of turn' and using a 'unoriginal' method Deborah flies into another argument which seems to go;

Deborah: Fuck You!

Charles: No, Fuck You! (Walks away)

Deborah: Don't you walk away from me.

Deborah then heads to the dungeon to calm down and collect her thoughts, she toys with her pet girl (Kimberly Grant) but then realises that the other prisoner is missing and the pet informs her that Charles took her. Cue another argument in the Fuck you, no fuck you, don't walk away from me manner.

To cut to the chase the two then plot the demise of each other and despite some poisoning, stabbing and torturing they manage to pass of as loving couple when the police call by. The daughter, Becky, stirs things by informing her mother that Charles has been molesting her. This appears to be a lie and does not appear to have any point and is never resolved. The rest of the film centres on the two fighting each other with baseball bats, stun guns, revolvers and kitchen knifes.

So Natural Born Killers this is not.

This is essentially a psychological character study with the serial killing taking a back seat to the domestic problems. This is a case of 'I love you but cannot live with you, and cannot live without you.' - so I'll just have to kill you, would appear to be the solution. The film has many bad points but it also has some very nice elements, which I will discuss first.

The dungeon or torture room is a very well designed set which really does reflect the mind of these killers as well as visually looking repulsive and damp and cold and smelly. Eric Whitney is responsible for creating the room and considering the low budget has done an outstanding job, although Keeyes doesn't use it to it's full potential only allowing us in there a couple of times. There are many photos around the house, in the torture room and the bedroom which are of the killers victims and the make up effects on these photos is pretty good although we scarcely get any effects in the film.

Ok so there were two good points but both were overshadowed by the fact that they were not used to the greatest effect.

The main problem is that because this is a character study you must be able to relate to or sympathise with or just understand the characters but due to the shortcomings in acting and the script this isn't achieved. The domestics are unbelievable and laughable and there seems to be too much dialogue to the point that its; Fuck off, I will then, good, ye good, ok then, ok I'm going, go then, I will. And to make it more stupid firstly Charles is going to leave and Deborah begs him to stay then Deborah says she has wanted to leave and Charles begs her to stay. The acting really isn't up to much either. Trent Haaga is a Troma regular and within the confines of a campy Troma flick he's acceptable but playing a dramatic lead he just isn't believable as a real character. Brandy Little's main problem is, her over acting which makes her scenes with Trent seem like the acting in a school play although her scenes with Hayden Tweedie are considerably better.

At the end of the day this really isn't a good film, the direction is ok except for the over use of the split-dioptre (a camera lens that allows for two different focal lengths in the same shot so both fore ground item and background item are in focus- see Brian De Palma) but ultimately the poor material shows through and the viewing experience seems a chore not a pleasure.

Extra Features:

How odd that a film so poor should come packaged in an exceptionally good disk. We have a whole heap of features included and most of which are pretty good.

First we have 5 features on the film itself; The Victims, The World of the Killers, The Mind of the Killers, On the Set and The Torture room. The former and the latter of these are the best and offer a good insight into how the film could have been better. Over all the features do help inform you of all the thought and detail that went into such a low budget film. The shortest feature is 2mins 30secs and the longest 12mins 30secs.

There is also a not-so-well-hidden hidden feature about a running joke on set about a giant black cock that keeps popping up. It is quite amusing.

There is a collection of short films in the Shock-O-Shorts feature. Deep Dream (Daniel Sergio De La Vega) is the best although none of them are that good.

There is a collection of trailers for other Shock-O-Rama releases, most of which staring Misty Mundea and looking better than Suburban Nightmare.

The film also has a commentary track by the Director and Editor which is very informative into the production techniques used and the film process but Keeyes does tend to be annoying by constantly saying how great everything is when blatantly it isn't.

Review by Marc Woods

Released by Shock-O-Rama
Not Rated - Region 1 (NTSC)
Extras :
see main review