Thursday, May 23, 2013

Scarlet Samurai: Incarnation Movie Review Happy Halloween!

Update 10-31-13 Happy Halloween! I recently watched a newer screener of the film and have amended my earlier assessment. I made the change and reccomended Scarlet Samurai is a purchase. The additional finishing touches are solid and enhance the film.
One of the great pleasures of being an independent writer, is being able to review films which have yet to be sold to a distributor. The film-makers are often forced to wear many hats on the production, sometimes toiling away for years until a finished product is reached, and at times, the film still barely sees the light of day.

Tara Cardinal wears several hats in Scarlet Samurai: Incarnation. Tara is credited as the director, writer, and also plays two characters in the film. Sean Wyn has many diverse jobs on the production, including: visual effects, editor, and wardrobe, in addition to acting.

Scarlet Samurai opens with sisters Feng and Ikari (both portrayed by Tara Cardinal) Ikari is failing in college and has not shown up for school in a few weeks and professor Harrison comes over to the house to check up on her. Harrison says that her family will have to pay back the scholarship money unless she passes. Harrison comes up with a unique idea since she is an archaeology major, a field trip to a haunted Buffalo terminal, to record and document the findings.

Above Pic: Michael, Ikari, Tavi, and Becks all explore Buffalo Central Terminal.

Eventually Ikari and a small group of explorers set out to find out about the mysteries of the terminal. A teacher's assistant named Lindsey (), Ikari's old lover Becks (), who is also failing, and yes, ex lesbian lovers, and Tavi (, a women who also trains with Feng are all along for the journey. To photographically document their explorations Michael () is the lone male in the group. I do like that the film does explore the lesbian angle, and the fact that the lone male in the group is a cross-dressing guy. This reflects the open attitude of today's society, that people are not the white picket fence perception of reality like in the 1950s.

The exploration of Buffalo Central Terminal occurs a few minutes into the film, and at many turns, reveals gnarly souls,who are scrounging around in the shadows. Scarlet Samurai, plays like an action horror film, though the pace which the film progresses is not frantic, which might have been better for some parts. Although we don't learn much about the lead characters in the beginning of the film as the journey through the  terminal takes place, their individual traits are revealed, through some truculent, and often humorous banter. The monsters are lost souls from a fire disaster on the 17th floor many years back, and they are condemned to live out this hell stuck in the terminal for eternity.

The monsters become more aggressive as the film moves into the second act. Apparently they have some kind of poison, which renders the victims immobilized. Obviously, small defenseless women are easy prey, or are they? Tara Cardinal's alter ego type twin, Feng, is a sword slinging wild woman, with fire red hair, haha The Scarlet Samurai. 

The original print of Scarlet Samurai I watched was a "work in progress" Cannes Screener, and finishing touches were still being applied. This 10-31-13 review adds in the new print of the film and additional screen captures! The acting and scene set up are quite good for an indie film, and all the elements of story are also present. Monsters, bad attitude, outlandish costumes, samurai swords, and a very cute lead actress, makes for a rather unusual and entertaining 90 minute outing, which should do well in the DTV market. I rate Scarlet Samurai: Incarnation a 7 out of 10, worthy of a purchase.

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