Hello fellow genre fiends! I’m back yet again with another insightful review. This time were talking about the supernatural true crime thriller, THE HARROWING, directed by Jon Keeyes.

Here’s a brief plot overview:

Haunted by the ritualistic killing of his best friend, a vice detective determined to discover the truth goes into a forensic hospital and is plunged into his own personal hell where demons might be real. 

The first thing I want to point out about this film, which is probably one of the biggest selling points to me, is that it’s incredibly tense. Opening with a blend of gratuitous gore and disturbing true crime sequences, THE HARROWING appeared incredibly promising and appealing to my tastes. Likely appealing to the tastes of most horror fans.

The film focuses on our primary character, Ryan Calhoun (Matthew Thompkins) who suffers from clear post traumatic stress due to the death of a close friend and the obvious stress of being a detective. The acting portrayed by Thompkins felt genuine and unforced which provided an incredibly smooth viewing experience. That was quite a relief for me considering he is the main character. Another notable character for me was Lt. Logan (Michael Ironside, Starship troopers, Scanners, Total Recall) a hardened detective, hesitant, but later determined to help Calhoun with his investigation. I would also like to mention that some of the acting in the hospital sequences we’re a little over the top but were nonetheless realistic at times.

I must say that the effects, which appeared to be a blend of practical and CGI, were actually quite satisfying. Myself being a major fan of practical effects and gratuitous gore, I was actually pretty pleased with the direction they took. Considering the premise of the film, the gore didn’t feel unnecessary and served it’s purpose with the plot. If you’re dealing with demons, there’s going to be a lot of blood and guts.

Considering most of this film takes place in a psychiatric hospital, there was quite a bit of unsettling feelings mixed throughout my viewing experience. The horror genre definitely plays on the human psyche very often so using a “Looney bin” wasn’t at all unusual. In fact, it lead me to believe that I was going to like this film a lot less than I actually did. Looping in the use of the word “demon” and tying it into mental illness was one of the most interesting pieces of the plot in my opinion.

The score of this film felt relevant. It was incredibly dark and very helpful in building the tension during particular scenes. Actually contributing to some of the more “frightening” visuals without adding a cheap jump scare effect, which I could actually see a typical movie viewer complaining about. However, for a horror fan, it was a breath of fresh air in a forest of, for lack of a better word, stinkers.

Like I mentioned previously, this movie is jam packed with grotesque imagery, disturbing scenes and other things I don’t want to spoil for you readers out there. With a run time of roughly 110 minutes, it’s well worth buckling down and knocking out. It’s most definitely not for general audiences, but this movie is made for horror genre fans. If you’re a fan of Criminal Minds, psychological horror and films pumped with blood and gore, this movie is for you.

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