A grieving family, a centuries-old curse and something evil stalking it’s victims one by one. We’ve all seen this at least a few times. Effects man turned director Eric Pham and screenwriter Matthew Daley tap into familiar territory with FLAY. Surprisingly they managed to give the tale a few new twists, some of which are actually effective.
Beginning with an intro set on America’s frontier and setting up the curse, FLAY quickly jumps forward to the present day. Patricia (Peggy Schott) is an artist fighting inner demons. However, when she steals some cursed chain to use in a painting she unleashes other demons and soon ends up dead. Her estranged daughter Moon (Elle LaMont ALTERNATE REALITIES ) comes home to a very frosty reception from younger brother River (Dalton E. Gray) and a warm one from ex-boyfriend Tyler (Johnny Walter BUTCHER BOYS). As the links of the chain find their way into other hands the bodies begin to pile up. Can they figure out what is going on and end the curse before it ends them?
FLAY rises above its cliché subject matter for a number of reasons. The curse and how it spreads is a bit more logical than in many films. A Native American shaman cursed the chains he was held in. Now just touching a link curses a person. As the links are used for things such as friendship bracelets, the curse spreads. The creatures summoned by the curse are effectively creepy as well. Granted they resemble Slender Man more than anything one might expect a tribal shaman’s curse to unleash but they’re the stuff of nightmares. And the three leads are well fleshed out even if most of River’s friends are generic victims.
On a technical level, FLAY delivers as well. The effects are not surprisingly excellent. However FLAY also benefits from excellent cinematography by Gary Tachell, some wonderfully distorted sound effects and an effective score by veteran Japanese composer Akihiko Matsumoto, probably best known in the US for RETURNER.
FLAY is proof even the most overworked plots can be given fresh twists. It’s an effective film that should satisfy those looking for some scares. And speaking of looking, look out for PHANTASM’s A. Michael Baldwin in a small role.