Label: Anchor Bay UK
Release date: 10 April 2006
Running time: 90 min.
Director: Stefan Avalos
Stars: Steven Wastell, Paula Ficara, Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe.
The latest film from writer-director Stefan Avalos (THE LAST BROADCAST)
is THE GHOSTS OF EDENDALE, an atmospheric ghost story set in a somewhat
cliquey area of Hollywood.
In 1997, Stefan partnered with Lance Weiler to write, direct, produce and co-star in THE LAST BROADCAST. The film received international acclaim as the first desktop based feature film and then went on to many festivals, winning Best Feature Film Silver Prize at The Chicago Underground Film Festival. In 1999, THE LAST BROADCAST became the first feature motion picture to screen digitally at the Cannes Film Festival. However the film was doomed to be overshadowed by the much-hyped success of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, which was released around the same time.
THE GHOSTS OF EDENDALE follows budding screenwriter Kevin (Steven Wastell) and model-actress girlfriend Rachel (Paula Ficara) as they move to Los Angeles to follow their dream – making it as screenwriters in the film industry. They can't believe their luck when they find the perfect hillside house in the small community of Edendale, located in the trendy LA suburb of Silverlake. The neighbours immediately introduce themselves, and help them move in; desperate to know who’s taking over the house. All of them appear to work within the film industry, and they refer to their area as “The Hill”. They provide encouraging support for the two newcomers, but also warn them of the consequences of failure; you don’t get invited to parties anymore. As Rachel unpacks her things, we learn that she is recovering from a mental breakdown; Avalos shows us a get-well-soon card from friends which reads, “If you’re crazy, what will they say about us?”
Initially Kevin suffers writers’ block and sits playing Tetris on his laptop, until the influence of “The Hill” takes effect and he starts a script for a western. As Kevin becomes more and more obsessed with finishing his screenplay, Rachel notices he is gradually becoming emotionally cold and distant. Then Rachel begins seeing strange apparitions around their home that are dismissed by Kevin as nothing more than hallucinatory images related to her breakdown. To unnerve Rachel even more, one of the neighbours talks about The Hill as though it were alive; he describes the plumbing as arteries.
Rachel becomes convinced her visions are real when she learns the history of Edendale. It was once the site of Hollywood's first studios and belonged to Tom Mix, the Cowboy King of the silent era. As the result of a freak car accident, Mix was killed on his way back to Hollywood to make the comeback film of his then-flagging career. Horrified by this discovery, Rachel believes that Edendale has actually drawn Kevin and herself to its bosom for its own dark purpose.
THE GHOSTS OF EDENDALE is a ghost story nicely combined with dashes of film history and satirical comment on Hollywood. Like its predecessor, the film is also shot on video, and because of this format the night scenes suffer somewhat. For THE LAST BROADCAST the film makers used Adobe Premiere to render certain scenes more film-like, a little more computer rendering wouldn’t have gone amiss here. But, formats aside, it is well acted by Wastell and Ficara, and the scares are all low-key but quite effective – which makes a nice change from the CGI overkill of mainstream cinema. The film deals with the fear of not belonging and the overwhelming desire to succeed. The results of failure are neurosis, suicide and murder. Comparisons have been made with Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING (1980); like Jack Torrance, Rachel has previously suffered a nervous breakdown, and now suffers from writer’s block. Also, as in the former film, many of the Edendale shocks occur during the day; brightly lit - showing that a dream home in an attractive neighbourhood can be as frightening as an old dark house.
“You meet the same people on the way up as you do on the way down”.
Widescreen presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs
Audio commentary by director Stefan Avalos and producer Marianne Conner
The Remaking Of A Scene
Behind The Scenes Of Production
Behind The Scenes Of Special Effects
Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Optional Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS.