On the opening weekend of Frank Miller’s 300, let it be known that I instead watched a 300 of my own kind, as in a $300 movie called The Grand Horror. Yes, such is the life of distinction and prestige here at Horrorview.com.
The Grand Horror is an absolute minimum budget, first-time “let’s take a whack at this” type of film, and it’s actually not all that bad. I’ve seen plenty of supposed veteran directors do a lot worse, with a lot more money.
First of all, the viewing experience will very quickly show some of the effects of a lack of funds. There are several scenes shot with a single point-of-view, the actors walk all over one another in their lines, and there is ambient mic noise throughout. The sound effects crush the voices in terms of volume, even when the actors are delivering key backstory. Still, these are all things to be expected.
Essentially, survivors of a zombie plague outside seek shelter in a huge theater which was shut down years before. It was also the scene of a gruesome killing spree by its depressed owner, and oddly enough, the zombies make no effort of entering its doors. Soon, it’s up to the small group to piece together exactly what happened within the walls of the theater before it’s too late. (Cue ominous string section!)
It’s clear that the filmmakers are huge fans of the genre, and there are many influences noticeable during the movie. The ghosts’ movements and actions are very similar to Ringu’s Sadako, or Watch Me’s mysterious redhead. Even some of the camera filtering techniques serve to make the film creepier at all the right moments.
There are a number of very cleverly placed lines of dialogue. The shining example is a scene where the actors are supposed to head into a new part of the theater, but are obviously just at the other end of the same dark hallway. One looks at the hall and states to the other, “this looks just like the last one”.
The Grand Horror is set in The Grand Theater located in Grand Island, Nebraska. The filmmakers loved the place so much they decided they had to make a film there, and they do a decent job cutting their teeth with this piece. The acting is slightly above average, and there is one very well-done kill with, of all things, a mop.
Viewers can expect to see some limitations due to budget restraints, but in all, The Grand Horror is a fun film to watch, and judging from the commentary, a fun film to make. It will be interesting to see future offerings from Dead Lantern Pictures.
Available at Dead Lantern's site, here.