Movie Review: Skip Shea's TRINITY

One of the greatest and most fearful aspects of horror is the idea that we can live vicariously through the lives of the prey, predators and those victims who get in the way.  These terrible moments, actions and motives are there for anyone at any time to experience.  Taking place during a Massachusetts winter, TRINITY follows tortured artist Michael (Sean Carmichael) who during a routine stop at the local coffee shop is confronted by the demon of his past in the form of Father Tom (David Graziano) who has returned for a funeral.  This meeting incites the pain and guilt of Michael's younger years of being sexually abused by Father Tom while under the protection and denial of the church.  This journey into Michael's darkness takes the viewer through a sick and emotionally powerful gallery of the dark moments, actions, sins and characters that both guide and make him face the truth that has shaped his life as a corpse profile artist. Being pulled down the disturbing and sophisticated rabbit hole, we learn the very real and abstract world of Michael's journey into his hell and his rise to rectify the evil of one man's abuse of power.  The story of TRINITY is the latest tale of brutal honesty, twisted justice and a journey into an unbearable guilt by Massachusetts filmmaker Skip Shea (CHOICES and AVE MARIA).  

To watch TRINITY and to write this review was one of the most challenging assignments to date.  Trying to understand the power and expression of this film as well as knowing filmmaker Skip Shea over the years as I have, it invokes sadness within me from the truth and reality in this story, something I have never been through.  TRINITY is a cultured, arthouse piece of of cinema that offers so much visual articulation that comes from a deep, dark location inside.  It exposes you to a live nerve-ending of unrelenting truth and expressive dream in what victims feel, how they cope and what they feel on many levels.  For me, it was truly overwhelming and scary at times watching the infamous and un-repenting monster, Father Tom, as he goes about free to snatch in the night while wearing the hypocritical cloak of religion.

I asked so many questions while watching the film and about Michael's sensory performance that through the majority of the film opens torturous challenges of pain, sin and memories which sweeps up the viewer in a wave.  At times, I felt lost in where the narrative was going.  I tried to understand what influenced Shea's writing, framing, design, directing and editing. Shea handled so many aspects of this and in this case, I believe I understand why Shea handled as much as he did, including editing.  You see the fingerprint of it (perhaps coping technique) on the film as a way to offer closure, the way Michael sees redemption and understands the courage to face the boogeyman instead of falling deeper into the hole.  However, it seems to hinder TRINITY, leaving more in to express the pain and support the story where a fresh pair of eyes working with Shea may have trimmed a bit off the film offering a bit more clarity for the viewer.  Why the story may be a bit confusion in the early going, Shea pays off the work and the ability to not spoon feed with an insight and resolution that is satisfying and justified in the final reel.  

 Visually, there is nothing confusing about the color changes and tone that switch from a duller side of winter to the memory of monochrome that enriches the film.  The locations, art design, placement and landscapes are pillars that give the narrative a sense of mood, the viewer a chance to think and at times tension that makes you shake.  Cinematographer Nolan Yee and Shea also effectively frame and create sight lines that show an understanding of capturing the feel as well as how long to linger and hold moments for full effect.  This is complimented by a fluid and education expression (at times over my head and in need of research) of paintings, acting and the pulse of TRINITY found in the score.  Invoking and setting up pressure points in the film, the score composed by Steven Lanning-Cafaro feels like you are going through the looking glass into a dream wrapped in a dense mist that you must work through.  I wanted to give some props to the cast and crew (I believe mostly New England based cast and crew) who created a very complex and emotionally heavy canvas from Shea's thoughts, vision and reality of the topic.  Especially to "Wicked Bird Media" who has championed very creative and yet very challenging works in the New England area.  

As you can see, TRINITY is a film that you have to work for to understand, comprehend or experience.  The experience is an unsettling journey of truth, laced with realistic horror and historical injustice and abuse of power crafted like a complex painting displayed on the wall to interrupt and understand on different levels.  Films like Bryan Singer's APT PUPIL, Thomas Caruso's ZOMBIE, Shea's AVE MARIA, Nicole Kassell's THE WOODSMAN and even Peter Jackson's LOVELY BONES comes to mind when I watched TRINITY, as the reality of story and the effects on each person is terrifying to understand and watch.  

Jay Kay