Spirit Riser Poster

Spirit Riser (2024) Review

“Thy soul shall find itself alone” intones Michael Madsen (Sin City, Angels Fallen) in Spirit Riser’s opening with narration. And that’s as close to mainstream as this film ever gets.

Moments later we see Sydney (Summer Greenberg, Werewolf Bitches from Outer Space, Cuddly Toys) running against a black background and having a conversation with her sister Ingrid (Amanda Flowers, Ouija Shark 2, Psycho Ape!) framed as two talking heads, each in an ornate Victorian frame. This all ends with a cheesy shot of a miniature house exploding, something I’ll take over a cheesy CGI explosion any day.

The sisters escape the explosion, but Ingrid is left with amnesia and can’t tell Parker (Kansas Bowling, Murdercise, The Third Saturday in October Part V) and Kansas (Kansas Bowling, Our Lady Crucifixion, Absolute Vow) who she is or how she got there. They get her a room with Mrs. Skylace, played by Cherie Curie of The Runaways.

Spirit Riser 2

Her sister meanwhile is rescued from a couple of pervs by Alan, a private detective played by the late Alan Merrill who, in an odd coincidence, wrote and sang the original version of “I Love Rock and Roll”, which Cherie Curie’s former bandmate Joan Jett had a hit with. Alan convinces his ex Elizabeth (Lynn Lowry, Bathtub Shark Attack, Fang) to help him fake Sydney’s death and help her hide from whatever is after her.

What is after her and her sister is a sinister being known as The Man From the Dark and Lonely Place (Whitney Moore, Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Satanic Panic). And they’ll have to reunite and realize their destiny in order to stop him.

Spirit Riser was written and directed by trans filmmaker Dylan Mars Greenberg whose previous films include Amityville: Vanishing Point and ReAgitator: Revenge of the Parody and has appeared in Return to Return to Nuke ‘Em High Aka Vol. 2 and Evil Everywhere, which should give you an idea what to expect. Here she has created something that is less a narrative film than a collection of bizarre scenes held together by the barest thread of a plot. By design, it all comes together like a bizarre dream or maybe a particularly weird trip filled with strange characters, stranger situations and a multitude of music videos by some decent sounding bands.

Spirit Riser 7

Much of the dialogue sounds improvised, and as is usually the case, some of it works wonderfully, and some of it, such as a near endless monologue about kids and cigarettes delivered by Sydney’s babysitter, are grating in the extreme. Spirit Riser is much more successful when it sticks to bizarre visuals, intentionally tacky 80s music video style effects such as the Statue of Liberty going on a rampage, and the inevitable cameo by Lloyd Kaufman (Visitors – Complete Edition, The Toxic Avenger).

But it’s really rather pointless to try and review a film like Spirit Riser using conventional standards. Greenberg has said she’s “proud of translating what I love most about wackadoo performance art into film” and wackadoo may be the best way to describe this movie. It doesn’t try to look realistic or follow any sort of normal plot progression. It simply wants to entertain based on its own internal logic, however warped that might be.

Spirit Riser 1

Greenberg deserves credit just for getting Spirit Riser through a production that, according to the film’s Facebook page, started shooting in 2017, had a rough cut in 2020, and is finally through post-production and seeing release now. Given all the things that could have gone wrong on a microbudget film like this, it’s impressive that it was finished, let alone with so many practical, if lo-fi effects including stop-motion in the mix.

For those who can deal with this kind of surreal weirdness, Soul Riser will be quite entertaining, Others may well be wondering what the hell they’re watching. Spirit Riser will make its debut on March 30th at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria NY., A West Coast screening will follow on April 26th at the Gardena Cinema in Gardena CA.

YouTube video
Our Score
Scroll to Top