DATELINE: High Quality Thriller
Stephen Buchanan as suspect!
It was shot in two weeks with a miniscule budget, but without expensive special effects, you can have a shocking and well-produced supernatural horror. The Ascent will surprise, delight, and amaze.
With intense closeups and perhaps one of the cleverest screenplays this side of Sherlock Holmes, you have a Latino LA detective (Miguel Perez) playing Henry Cardenas whose brilliant psychological insights solve cases and bring criminal confessions.
He is on the verge of setting a new police department record of 75 confessed homicides: when he comes face-to-face with a daunting murder, allegedly committed by a koo-koo bird who insists he is Lucifer’s Kid Brother, making Charles Manson look like a fallen angel.
The performances are to die for: especially Miguel Perez as the cardiac detective of heavy-set middle-age, not your usual Holmesian type. His banter and back-and forth with the suspect (Stephen Buchanan) as the egomaniacal suspect covered in blood is utterly fascinating.
You don’t need a big budget with sharp delineations and even crisper dialogue—as suspect and interrogator match wits and switch positions. You know something is amiss when the suspect knows the detective’s name is Henry without being told.
The Ascent features a descent into hell by elevator that requires only improv acting style to achieve its horror.
Director and writer Tom Murtaugh will require monitoring in the future. We don’t know whether it will be possible to match this kind of style if he’s given a big budget to handle.
If you are in the mood for a smart movie that will test you, this is the gem of the year.