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Killing Ariel - horror DVD / comedy DVD review
KILLING ARIEL rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Axelle Cummings, Michael Brainard, Miguel Najera, Joseph Gatt, Lindsley Allen
Directors: Fred Calvert, David J. Negron Jr.   Distributor: MTI Home Video
DVD release: 16 June 2009   Runtime: 90 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
DVD features: Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Subtitles (Spanish), "Behind the Screams: The Making of Killing Ariel"

Being a horror fan is hard to defend sometimes. There are a lot of horrible films to sort through in order to find one worth watching. When a good one is found, particularly if somewhat by surprise, it is worth celebrating. While by no means a classic, Killing Ariel is a very pleasant surprise - spooky, imaginative, and disturbing, not to mention sexy and darkly funny at times.

The plot: Rick, as a young boy, witnesses the murder/suicide of his parents. Years later, the adult Rick (Michael Brainard) is telling his story to a psychiatrist. Rick is convinced that a demon seduced his mother into committing her deadly acts. He then relates to the psychiatrist what happened to him recently:

While seemingly happily married, Rick sees a beautiful woman jogging nearby and is instantly smitten. He introduces himself to her and learns her name is Ariel (Axelle Cummings). She quickly seduces Rick, who arranges for them to have a secret fling in his childhood home (the same one where the murder took place). After making love, Rick is overcome by guilt over his affair, as well as somewhat disoriented by his surroundings - he begins to see other women in the house and starts finding himself in different rooms in the house he doesn't remember entering.

From this point, the film becomes increasingly and effectively creepy, almost like a more sinister version of the classic comedy Groundhog Day. As Ariel, the beautiful Cummings gives a good performance. She is able to be both quite sexy and spooky and threatening at the same time (not an easy feat). As one might guess from the title, Rick eventually tries to escape from his maze by killing Ariel - only to find her beside him, acting like nothing ever happened. The effect is truly disorienting as Rick becomes increasingly unsure if he is trapped in a dream or a new reality.

Not every aspect of the film works. Brainerd is good as Rick, but a little too often I found he came close to mimicking Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Furthermore, some viewers might get impatient with a film that is constantly shifting between so-called "realities", which make the viewer unable to fully trust that what they are seeing is "real."

Still, I truly enjoyed this surprising little gem. I value movies that are unpredictable, which this one is. It also offers a few good scares as well as some eerie moments, plus a nice little twist at the end (a bit predictable, but still well done). Best of all, Cummings is quite beautiful and sexy as Ariel, and I hope she moves on to bigger and better things.

I hope this film gets a proper release on DVD. It's worth a rental by horror fans, as well as those who appreciate films with a dark erotic twist from time to time.
reviewed by Trent Daniel
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