I Dream of a Psychopomp is not a documentary about the 90s-era industrial band Psychopomps. What it is, is a collection of three short films and a wraparound all directed by Danny Villanueva Jr. (Jason Voorsneeze, Greg the Grouchy Gremlin) and co-writer J. Anthony Ramos (Charlie and the Empty Factories).
The wraparound is the story of Kerry (Elohim Peña, Behind Closed Eyes, Losing Grip), a man struggling to get over the loss of his wife Evelyn (Kulani Kai, She Is Not Your Daughter, Mary). Something that’s made worse by the fact she died in an accident he was responsible for. He has a conversation with Charles (Steven Alonte, Cathedral) the owner of the funeral home where Evelyn’s body lies. Afterward, he begins being visited in his dreams by a Psychopomp (also Steven Alonte), a spiritual guide who relates three stories to help him guide Evelyn’s soul to where it needs to be so they can both find peace.
The first story, “SpellBound High Monster Hop” centers around Caroline (Fiona Rose, Lisa and Liza) an introvert with a crush on Lonnie (Easton Michaels), and one chance to do something about it before he leaves for college. But a devil-masked classmate (Travis Greene) has other plans for all of them.
“Creating this film was a way to familiarize myself with death in order to ease some of its force when it knocks. Throughout the editing process, I was the primary caregiver of my dying mother who passed away from stage 4 lung cancer.”
Like all of the stories in I Dream of a Psychopomp, “SpellBound High Monster Hop” isn’t really frightening, nor does it try to be. Instead, it uses elements of the horror film to examine death and loss. It’s a beautifully shot segment, and despite its subject matter, more touching than shocking.
The second segment, “Answers” is anything but touching, however. Carl (Peter Knox, Agramon’s Gate, Time Now), a serial child murderer has finally been caught. A psychic, Deena Swann (N. Meridian) has been brought in a last attempt to find the location of his final victim. As the skeptical detectives look on, she finds more than anyone expected.
Obviously, with subject matter like this, I Dream of a Psychopomp’s middle story is its grimmest. But it’s still handled in a way that concentrates more on what lies under the surface of people’s actions and delivers a couple of surprises.
The last of I Dream of a Psychopomp’s stories, “Until Forever” is in many ways the most conventional. It’s a tale of Adriano (Ben Shaul, The Discreet Apparition of Liberty), a vampire for whom eternal life has lost its appeal, and Elayna (Jillian Ebling, Bridge of Spies) a young girl with a fatal disease.
We’ve seen this kind of story played out before, and the idea of a young child possibly becoming one of the undead has long since stopped having any shock value on its own. Having one seek it out, and wrestle with its implications and whether having a life of any kind is worth it is unusual.
The wraparound ends I Dream of a Psychopomp on a fitting note.
Rather than a conventional horror film Villanueva and Ramos have made a film that’s more thoughtful. It’s a look at the emotional issues of life and death, loss, and finding peace. It’s a film to put on when you’re in a more serious mood and want more than just a few jump scares.
I Dream of a Psychopomp premiered on Terror Films Channel on August 12th. It will be available on Digital platforms on August 19th and then on the Kings of Horror Channel on August 26th. You can check Terror Films’ or the film’s own Facebook page for more details. And if you want something similar, FilmTagger has a few suggestions.