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Haunting ghost tale 'Revelator' looks great, but solid storytelling eludes it

Haunting ghost tale 'Revelator' looks great, but solid storytelling eludes it
Mindy Rae and J. Van Auken in the movie 'Revelator.' (Maxim Media Marketing)

Indie horror movie "Revelator" boasts the ghost of a good idea, shimmering just outside of existence. As writer, director, producer, star, editor and more, J. Van Auken brings a cool central concept and strong visuals, but the film ultimately never finds solidity.

The ability to see the dead makes it nearly impossible for John Dunning (Van Auken) to live. He struggles to survive on money from his work as a psychic, with spirits of the departed appearing to him whether he likes it or not. Reluctantly accompanied by a less-than-ethical journalist (Mindy Rae), he begins investigating the death of an heir to a large fortune, but he soon becomes a target of suspicion himself.

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"Revelator" is the feature directorial debut for Van Auken, but his experience as a colorist and cinematographer shows in genuinely creepy, often beautiful shots. John's visions of the dead are particularly haunting in both concept and execution, and Van Auken's performance is at its strongest in his reactions to what he alone can see.

Where Van Auken is weakest is as a screenwriter. The script for "Revelator" focuses on two bland, unsympathetic characters who aren't elevated by their actors' performances. The engaging idea at the screenplay's heart — a man who would do anything to stop his visions of the dead — gets lost in layers of an unnecessarily complex plot.

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‘Revelator’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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