Directed by James Tucker
Produced by Joshua Nelson
Written by Joshua Nelson
Director of Photograpy Brian Fass
Music by Duane Peery
Cast: Joshua Nelson, Elizabeth Cooke, Kevin T. Collins, Velocity Chyaldo, Frank Franconeri
2005/90 mins/Color/Dolby 2.0
1.85:1/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Anchor Bay Home Entertainment DVD
Even those who live under rocks are most likely aware of how remakes have been running rampant in Hollywood as of late. I'm not necessarily against the notion of remakes, I just don't like movies that don't have any original ideas...and let's face it, most of these remakes are more like retreads, as they squander the opportunity of doing something different. I would prefer to see filmmakers take an old idea and attempt to add a new twist to it, as with the direct-to-DVD shocker, AUNT ROSE.
As AUNT ROSE opens, we are introduced to two distinct groups of people. Johnny (Joshua Nelson), Robin (Velocity Chyaldd), and Stewie (Kevin T. Collins) are three thugs who seemingly have no morals. Johnny and Robin are thrill-killers who have no problem taking out anyone who gets in their way. Stewie doesn't appear to share their point-of-view, but does nothing to stop them. In sharp contrast, we meet Debbie (Elizabeth Cooke), a whiny young woman and her parents, Peter (Frank Franconeri) and Anna (Christine D'Amato). Debbie and her father are constantly at odds, as he feels that she is lazy. Things in the house are made more tense due to the presence of Aunt Rose (Marty Gargle), a peculiar, bed-ridden woman who lives with the family.
These two worlds collide when Robin calls Debbie (whom she apparently knows -- this part is vague) saying that she wants to stop by and give Debbie some money that she owes her. This is the same night that Debbie is having her friend Toni (Raine Brown) over for dinner. The peaceful get together is shattered when Johnny, Robin, and Stewie invade the home. As they are on the run from the law, this criminal trio needs a place to "lay low" for a while. They tie up the family and begin to physically and verbally abuse them. Little do they know that Aunt Rose isn't the feeble old woman that she appears to be and she won't tolerate anyone hurting her family.
AUNT ROSE is a frustrating mixture of pros and cons. Director James Tucker and writer/producer/actor Joshua Nelson have clearly attempted to make a professional-looking movie here. Despite the fact that this is a low-budget, direct-to-DVD movie which was shot using non-HD video equipment (my guess would be that this was made using the "film look" video process which was popular in the mid-90s), AUNT ROSE never feels "cheap". The sets and locations feel "real" for the most part (as opposed to those movies that look as if they were shot in the director's parent's house). Tucker never gets overly creative with the camerawork, but nor does the film has any of the off-center or out-of-focus shots which typically plague these movies, and the editing is quite smooth. For the most part, the acting is adequate, although the first scene with Johnny and his gang has the feel of a high-school play.
And Nelson must be commended for taking a tired formula and trying something different with it. The problem with AUNT ROSE is that it teases us with the something different for far too long and when it finally arrives, it's too late. For the bulk of the film, AUNT ROSE sticks very closely to the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT/HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK formula as the trio of deranged, desperate killers burst in on a "normal" family and take them hostage. We get the requisite threats of violence and rape as the thugs threaten their captives. However, early on there is a hint that something peculiar is happening with Aunt Rose and that this will come into play. The problem is that hints are all that we get for the longest time. The movie's supernatural elements don't arrive until the middle of the third act. By this time, the audience has had enough of the hostage situation and is hungry for something more. And yet, the Aunt Rose action is too little too late. I'm not sure if this is due to budget constraints or trepidation on the part of the filmmakers, but the implied "vengeance" is somewhat weak. I had hoped that Aunt Rose would be some sort of superpowered with who would go ape-shit on the intruders, but alas, this doesn't happen. As with many films in this sub-genre, AUNT ROSE is heavy on violence and an air of creepiness from the gang, but not overly gory. In fact, this DVD appears to contain the unrated version of the film, but at least one scene (involving a stripper) appears to have been cut when compared to the behind the scenes footage.
AUNT ROSE could have been a low-budget classic, as there's nothing better than seeking punk-ass villains get their comeuppance. It's even better if this comes through a supernatural rage. As it stands, AUNT ROSE is a better than average home-grown horror film, but the pacing is a bit slack and instead of bringing something truly different to the table, this feels more like a homage to Wes Craven's classic film.
AUNT ROSE climbs out of bed and onto DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. (Although the packaging looks a lot like a Lionsgate release.) The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1, but the transfer is not enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. This made for an image which was much smaller than to what I've become accustomed. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The picture is somewhat dark at times, but otherwise, it's well-balanced. The colors look fine and the transfer isn't plagued by video noise or "white out" which is often seen in shot-on-video features. The packaging claims that the DVD contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, but according to my receiver, it was a Dolby 2.0 track. This track provided clear dialogue, sound effects, and music with no hissing or distortion. But, the audio came predominantly from the center channel, with only ambient sounds coming from the front speakers and no discernible audio from the rear or subwoofers.
The AUNT ROSE DVD contains two extra features. BEHIND-THE-SCENES (29 minutes) opens with writer/producer/actor Joshua Nelson (looking much different from his appearance in the movie) taking us on a tour of the special makeup effects shop where we get to see several cast members get life-casts made. The remainder of the segment is simply on-set video with occasional comments from actors or crew members. The DVD contains 4 DELETED SCENES which are all fairly brief and don't contain any new information.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©