Director: Hank Braxtan
Starring: Natalie Victoria, Arielle Brachfeld, Stephanie Greco, Lacy Fisher, Lony’e Perrine.USA. 1h 35m
I’d be a terrible hypocrite if I claim to champion indie movies and let this one slip by without raising a glass to it. Now I might be slightly biased with my opinion about this low budget horror but I was awake at about 3am feeling like death had warmed me up, delirious with a fever I thought a movie would help me pass over to a better place, and this gem cropped up, I love the title Chemical Peel, it sounds so grotty. So while high on chewable morphine I really got into the movie, I should add that later on I watched Blood Glacier for the first time and was doubly blown away. I have since watched the movie on tree more occasions and each time I’ve been laid up in bed with a virus and knocking on heavens door. I guess this makes it my official sick flick?
Hank Braxtan has used the tried and tested set up of a group of young people trapped in cabin when a terrible chemical spill occurs nearby causing a toxic cloud to surround them, but it’s not just as simple as chemicals, potential zombies and sudden death. There’s a wonderful little back story which causes some friction pre toxic cloud and this lends to a much more in depth and powerful movie.
The film opens with quite an ingenious snippet of back story, from mostly sounds alone we get to hear the girls out drinking and driving, then there’s a crash, someone dies, this cause a rift between the two leads, Rae (Victoria) and her wild eyed bitchy cousin Angela (Brachfeld) who’s a constant thorn in everyone’s side as she desperately attempts to use everyone as live bait for her survival.
Braxtan uses broken news stories to get across the potential dangers of the chemical cloud, nothing to the level of Veerhovens level of exaggerated media pushing but it’s close. Once everything has been established, characters and plot etc, Braxtan does toy with the cast by developing new symptoms for the spill and the body horror begins. Melting bodies and pools of blood vomit begin to fill the cabin.
With the subdued remote location and only death outside the door it becomes a pretty intense drama. The women find ways to stay alive while all feeling fear and anger about the situation. They don’t full MaGuyver but they become pretty resourceful. But it’s not help against an every developing situation. Scenes of frothing rabbit bodies and pools of fermenting water cut in between the cabin drama, as the girls all begin to look sick and become more desperate their sanity also crumbles.
The ambiance mimics any nuclear winter apocalypse movie, with the misty landscape and cold light makes everyone look as dead and dying as they are supposed to be feeling and there’s actually some fairly decent acting behind some competent special effects.
The only missing element which I love about indie movies is there’s usually a nod to a classic or cult movie which is missing here but it’s not a big thing,. But there’s little to explanation as to what happened to cause all this, but a wonderful character does enter the film for the final scene offering compensation for some silence, this agent from Biocore offers the cherry on the top of what I found to be a very compensation thrilling movie.