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"YELLOW"


SYNOPSIS: A Modern Giallo Horror Film, YELLOW tells the story of a lonely young woman who begins an unlikely relationship with dire consequences.

DIRECTOR: David Holcombe

CAST: Heather Dorff, Magaret Grace, Jill Oliver, Christopher Kahler, Joette Waters, Sam Quinn, Tron Griffin, Casey Chapman, Stephen Diffefle, Rory Leahy, Michael Doonan, Kyle Greer, H.B. Ward.

MY THOUGHTS: Mature piece of indie work.

REVIEW:"Yellow" is a freshman effort from filmmaker David Holcombe, which prides itself on being in the vein of the "Giallo" movie. The pic follows a mentally unstable young woman named Arianna (Grace), who moves to Chicago to start a new life. Her new life however is plagued by a strange anxiety disorder. Which upon first glance, and first introduction...seems to be more along the lines of mental trauma instead. Her new life begins to take a turn for the worse when her job as a stylist at a local salon falls into jeopardy. Thanks to some accusations of property theft.

To make matters worse, Arianna's boss, and co-workers don't like or respect her all that much. And she cannot seem to make friends with anyone around. She alleviates her friendless existence, by dialing up a phone-sex chat line routinely. This leads her into meeting a woman named Jackie (Oliver). At first, Jackie and Arianna's relationship is just healthy curiosity. But then, things start to get strange as Arianna finds "gifts" outside her door. To make matters worse, a killing spree begins against people Arianna knows and or works with.


A spree which seems to be headed right in her direction! It seems this troubled young woman, just can't catch a break! "Yellow" for a mini-budget local film, with mostly local actors (Dorff, who plays the Salon Receptionist is a Chicago native), takes some big-budget-movie risks. It delves off onto a number of story paths which the director continues to successfully juggle until the film concludes. The character of Arianna, played by Margaret Grace...is a very intriguing woman. She's odd, weird, and mousy. But has a "cuteness" to her as well.


A very intriguing combination. The character is established as "troubled". But we're never told or shown why until the filmmakers are ready to drop this bomb on us. And it's not just those strange calls she receives from her mother from time to time. It's not a bomb that we haven't seen before in horror pictures though, but it's handled very well in this particular movie. Due to the way it's allowed to unfold, it comes off more as a nice twist. Instead of a cheap, and lazy way out of a plot jam. Some people can pull this off, others can't. Holcombe managed to do the former. What keeps you intrigued and attentive while watching this film, is the tone and pace at which everything occurs.

For example, Arianna as a character seems to have trouble "find" her instead of her finding it herself. Her job as a stylist seems to be the only enjoyment or happiness she has in her life. But a thief amongst the employees threatens to take that away from her. The thief, seems to know Arianna's boss doesn't like her very much. Which enables them to operate with impunity while Arianna gets the blame everytime a new shop-item goes missing. Because of these work-related problems, she seeks refuge with a newfound "friend", in this Jackie person she meets via the chat-line. But it seems Jackie has a dark side, and Arianna might've bitten off more than she can chew.

Yet something about Jackie, seems to continue to draw Arianna closer to her. Meanwhile, there's a killer on the loose. And this all might be connected to a man who it is revealed in one scene...is released from prison early. This is another "mystery" the movie juggles nicely. The identity of this man, and his connection to Arianna. Along with the murders as well. But the people dropping like flies are all people Arianna has had problems, or bad-run-ins with. And since the character herself has a strange "disorder", which is diagnosed in the film as "anxiety"...the door is left open that she could just be unleashing the darkness inside herself. But also blacking out, and not remembering that she ever did.

Perhaps what her boss tells her in one of the films pivotal scenes is true. Maybe her meek, quiet persona is all just "an act"? Or are other "hands" at work in these gruesome killings? After all, it seems that as she and Jackie have more late-night-chats, and their relationship grows closer...more death tends to follow! All of these different moving parts, make this an indie horror picture with some interesting flavor. And very smart plot mapping. At a time where most indie horrors are relying on gallons of blood, exposed flesh, and cheap twist endings. "Yellow" separates itself by introducing smart, mature characters. Into an even smarter, and more mature situation/scenario.

If you take away the fact that this is just a movie...it kinds of feels like you're watching someones actual life, play out right before your very eyes! The director then peppers in a type of filmmaking, which while it is aimed at being "Giallo'esque"...reminded me more of a Grindhouse/80's psycho-slasher theme more than anything else. Tarantino'esque, with some urban grit and "Suspiria"ish use of color thrown into one big, risky but successful mix. I say risky because this movie pulls its directing ideals from so many different influences, that it could've taken the easy way out and just went for flashy jump-cut filmmaking.

But it decided on a more professional, blendy direction. I liked it. The film manages to also keep the intrigue at a boil as it throws in more characters, including a local detective...as it nears the finale. The detective character though is also made out to be somewhat of a cliche. As in one scene...he explains to Arianna that he is writing a book on...you guessed it..."true crime homicide." I am not sure if this was done on purpose or not, but it's a nice nod to today's "true crime novel/t.v. show obsessed culture." And it fits well with a movie that is filmed in a city like Chicago, which of course has a bloody history all the way up until now, in 2013.

"Yellow" manages to avoid what could've been a complicated, sloppy, and crowded finale. By using some great pacing, and plot twists. I was satisfied with the conclusion, although it does leave a lot of questions up in the air. Still, I felt the movie ended how I kind of thought it would in some aspects. But it still leaves some ambiguity in its midst. "Yellow" is what an indie-horror-thriller should be. Smart, risk-taking, and edgy. With a hint of maturity you don't see that often in this sort of genre.


THE GOOD:The characters were all well-done, particularly the oddball and seemingly meek Arianna. And the dark but sensual Jackie. Their relationship was an interesting one. Such polar opposites, who yet still attract. It seemed at times, as if Jackie was Arianna's "dark side" come to life. The type of "Arianna" that Arianna herself, could never gather up the courage to be.

I also enjoyed the scene involving Arianna's Mother and the "mystery man". A very powerful few minutes there with him being so dark, and demented. And Mom seemingly being "afraid" yet at the same time...accomodating towards him. The finale was solid as well, especially the "corpse reveal" scene. Which reminded me of "Happy Birthday To Me".


THE BAD:The film uses red filtering in its shoot a bit too much. At times its slightly overused. Also there are quiet scenes that are too quiet, and could use a few background beats. Even if they are ever so slight. These aren't movie-killing crtiques though, just moreso observations from my point of view.

OVERALL:Three and a half stars out of four.