Billy Senese's Closer to God was a sleeper gem when it hit Fantastic Fest in '14.
A clone of early Cronenberg (think: The Brood), the writer/director's sophomore movie contained a mountain of potential; enough to make this writer wonder if the overall viewing experience is what audiences who sat through Shivers on its first run felt like once the credits on that monumental debut rolled. Senese has a great eye and a sense of horrific flair that will serve him well moving forward, as there isn’t a hint of amateurishness to be found in his lo-fi storytelling (unlike his genre forefather).
Once the hardcore horror elements are inserted into the back half of that tale of genetic experimentation, Closer to God becomes a rather nasty riff on the Frankenstein's Monster mythos, riddled with "big ideas" and notions regarding humanity's place in the world. It's a solid little movie, and further proof that indie horror is where you discover the real future of the genre.
Now, Senese is returning with The Dead Center - a mysterious thriller starring Shane Carruth - that's sporting a rather ominous trailer and zero plot details. For fans of Carruth's work, the editing rhythms and ambient score will give you serious Upstream Color vibes.
Take a look:
What is The Dead Center about? Well, that's a great question. Senese's website (for the Nashville based filmmaker's LC Pictures) contains no real information about the movie, outside of the promise that it'll be "released in 2018". Judging from the footage, The Dead Center seems to find Senese fixated on more medical experimentation, as characters deadpan about being brought back from the dead, all while drone-style aerial footage follows cars down dark highways and brightly lit suburban neighborhoods.
It's all very eerie and portentous and totally up our alley. Here's hoping we get to find out a bit more about The Dead Center as it (more than likely) begins to pop up at festivals in the coming months. Could the project see Senese return to Fantastic Fest? One hopes so.
To be continued...