Review: TEN (2014)

Posted on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 by

Tonight I had the novel pleasure of watching a festival screener for a movie called Ten (2014), written and directed by Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein. The movie, without allowing for any spoilers, is essentially about ten drastically different women who show up on Spektor Island in the 1970’s for reasons unbeknownst to the viewer and they all end up stranded in a mansion together. As horror movies go, they start dying one by one as you’re getting to know the characters and get a feel for the bizarre situation, which involves a lot of pig decorations, pig masks, and a clown faced butcher running around. There’s an interesting spin on this movie at the end, and the movie itself pulls from many different genres, not just horror, making for a fun but puzzling watch.

I was super stoked to learn I would be reviewing this movie, as it has an all female cast and one of the writers/directors is also a woman. Obviously, here at Girl Terror, we dig that shit.  I was also excited for this opportunity to watch a low-budget, aspiring take on a movie because it has to be thought of in a different light in terms of critiquing. I think it’s really easy to make a judgment call on what is a “good” movie from a “bad” movie when it was made with a decent or high budget.  It’s often easy to watch a film that had a lot of money put into it fall flat on its ass and you’re just like, 'wow, what a fuckin’ waste of money that suck fest was, who let these people get away with writing and producing this movie?!' However, with a low-budget movie with aspiring writers and directors, you can’t be so callous; you have to take into account what the writers and directors had to work with in terms of actors, costumes, set, props, camera equipment, etc. It’s just nice to be able to honestly think critically about something that literally can’t persuade you with ostentatious distractions.

I’ll shut up now and get to the review:

Let me just start off by praising my favorite things about this movie. The animated opening with the credits and title was incredibly well done and fun, with some nice foreshadowing for what’s to come. I loved it. It also was a vegan set, and there was some dialogue around veganism and unethical animal treatment. There were also references to some psychological theories and experiments. As a vegetarian and as a counselor, I thought those were some pretty badass bits.

In terms of acting, I had to go into this movie expecting the acting and effects to not be the best, and I was pretty correct on that. Altogether not great acting, but a couple standouts including Molly Devon and Molly Carlisle. I also had to assume the worst about the setting and props, but unlike the acting, I was proven terribly wrong in this assumption. The setting and mansion that they used to film this movie in was beautiful and on point with the 70’s style they were going for. It was filmed in Rhode Island at a place called The Beach Mansion, and it was perfect. The props and styling, for the most part, also encompassed the feel of the 70’s very well. The camera work was also pretty good, with a couple of nods to some Hitchcock inspiration, which is always fun. 

As far as the writing, storyline, and general intent, which are of the most importance for a film like this, I had mixed feelings. On the film’s website it describes the movie as a “surrealistic, post-exploitation, Avant-mystery with an all female cast” and I kind of wish I had known all of that going into it, but alas, I didn’t. The writing is well done to the extent that the themes are easy to identify. However, I feel the film does fall a bit short with the writing in terms of the storyline, which is pretty hard to follow. There’s a lot of “what the fuck is happening?” and even when all is revealed in the end, it just lacks something. In watching the commentary of the film, I got more of a feel for what they were trying to do with this movie, and I honestly appreciated the messages behind it.  I can see how this movie would appeal to a certain kind of horror fan, and since the movie itself is a chameleon of genres, I could even see it appealing to those outside of the horror sphere. 

All in all, I found this movie very fun and only mildly confusing. The dialogue was pretty smart and politically driven, the themes were inspired and important in terms of identity and stereotypes, and the storyline is full of good intention. The execution just left something to be desired for me.

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