Sarah (Hallee Hirsch) is an average girl living an average boring life in a boring town. However, when she puts on an amulet inherited from her deceased Uncle Michael (Thomas Ian Nicholas), the town is suddenly overrun with zombies. Saved at the last second by a mysterious swordsman (Jordan Matthews), Sarah finds herself menaced by the evil Mathias (Brad Dourif), who wants the amulet so that he can control night and day. Mathias employs his evil spirits and his power over darkness to try to recover the amulet.
There are occasionally a few creative visual ideas here. It’s a neat shock a couple of times to see the “zombies”, who have bloody holes where their eyes should be. Having crows black out the sky in their numbers was kind of sweet the first couple of times it happened as well. The design of one of the evil characters, a demonic woman with a long tongue and horned face, was fairly inspired.
All right guys, I’ll give you this one.
The acting here is truly dreadful. It’s like taking the worst parts of a soap opera, a mattress store commercial and Saturday Night Live and combining them into the perfect storm of awful line reading. Everyone here, with the exception of Brad Dourif as the villain (who goes so far over the top he he’d be out of place in a 80s heavy metal music video), appear to be focusing on reciting their lines and not worrying about things like “emoting”. When the actors have no choice but to actually express some sort of feeling, they reach into a bag of stock responses such as “cry”, “surprised”, or “frightened”. The exception to this is Matthews as the swordsman, who just…stares.
Okay, cheap shot. It’s not that bad.
Drown your sorrows for a third time because in defense of the actors, they are not done any favors by the script, which features some horribly overindulgent dialogue ripped straight from a high school creative writing class. “Moody” one-liners, one or two depressingly weak attempts at wry humor and simile-laden monologues are packed to the bursting point into the script. It kind of feels like writer/director Brian A. Metcalf just took a ton of lines he thought sounded “awesome”, threw them on a page, and lazily tried to tie them together so he could legally call it a script.
Generally, with a movie in which mysterious horrible things happen, those things are explained before long. In Fading of the Cries, the confusion continues to stack up into a teetering tower of clumsily arranged plot elements with very little explanation. I kept waiting for some big exposition sequence but the best the movie has to offer is a couple of flashbacks, which literally do nothing to tie the characters and events together. It’s like a David Lynch movie but devoid of even that depraved logic. The already hammy dialogue tries to cryptically feed bits of the story throughout the adventure, but it never coheres into anything resembling a sensible plot, and the cries of the story threads have faded by the end of the movie (see what I did there? Drink your beer).
“I just want to understand this movie!!”
There’s this guy in the movie named Mathias, who seems to have walked straight out of the “Menacing Villainy for Dummies” guidebook. He’s obviously super evil because he uses absurdly theatrical monologues to basically describe the horrible evil things that he does such as bring darkness and cause the essence of nightmares (that’s literally a line of dialogue). He sneers, takes hostages, wears black robes, is old, and has a big wizard’s staff; basically the laundry list of traits for fantasy villains. I half-expected him to be somebody’s family member, but it’s never really explained where he comes from.
He’s like this, except maybe less evil
Remember when I said that there were “a few creative visual ideas”? I meant every word of that, literally. Unfortunately, those neat ideas look like shit on the screen. I understand that the movie had a low budget, but these special effects look as though someone stumbled across Adobe After Effects on their computer and had a blast for a couple of hours. The sloppy green screen effects on display here are innumerable. They get significantly worse as the movie goes on, which is really saying something since they were bad enough that they actually counteracted the beer vision.
Fading of the Cries is a hopeless case, a movie that does not get much better no matter what kind of alcoholic beverage you put into your body. It’s the worst bits of every dark fantasy film that’s been released in the last decade, a cocktail of cutting-room-floor footage arguably more poisonous than the copious amounts of alcohol needed to even survive it.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you can predict a horror or fantasy cliché and it happens (I recommend light beer for this one unless you’re the size of an elephant).
Take a Drink: every time Mathias says something excessively dramatic or theatrical.
Take a Shot: whenever Mathias pounds his staff on the ground.
Sip your Drink: every time Jacob’s sword flashes (sips only—I don’t want a lawsuit).
Chug a Beer: at the part where Mathias screams, “I WILL CEASE YOUR EXISTENCE!!”