Deliberately paced but not so deliberately thought out, the horror entry “Cassadaga” tries to scoop up enough tropes to satisfy a wide range of potential fright fans but lacks the cohesion to ever truly be effective.
Kelen Coleman sympathetically plays Lily, a deaf art teacher spurred by the tragic death of her younger sister to relocate to sleepy, moss-covered college town Cassadaga, where seance-holding spiritualists roam, a vengeful dead woman begins haunting her and the town weirdo might be a serial killer. There’s even romance in screenwriters Bruce Wood and Scott Poiley’s mixed bag, in the form of sweet-natured Mike (Kevin Alejandro), a divorced EMT enduring a custody battle whose adorable moppet is one of Lily’s students.
Director Anthony DiBlasi deserves props for putting as much screen-time care into Lily’s and Mike’s relationship as he does her nightmarish visions and the lingering torture-porn sequences in the uncaught sicko’s subterranean lair. DiBlasi is obviously interested in connecting these disparate strands into a meaningful tale about a woman overcoming crushing grief. So how exactly does the guy who wears a dress as he turns dismembered women into marionettes fit in?
MPAA rating: R for violence, disturbing images, sexual content and language.
Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle Music Hall. Also on VOD.