Wednesday, May 3, 2023

‘Saint Drogo’ Review – ‘Death Drop Gorgeous’ Filmmakers Elevate Their Game with New Horror Movie

Saint Drogo is the sophomore effort from Monster Makeup Productions, a filmmaking collective headed by co-director/co-writer/actor Michael J. Ahern, co-director/cinematographer/editor Ryan Miller, and co-director/co-writer/actor Brandon Perras-Sanchez. Having found an audience with 2020’s Death Drop Gorgeous between the festival circuit, distribution via Dark Star Pictures, and streaming on Shudder and Tubi, it would have been easy for the creators to cater to the same niche.

But, as boldly proclaimed by Saint Drogo‘s opening moments — in which a mysterious figure shrouded in a white robe looks on as a man spills his intestines onto the sand with a rusty blade — the Monster Makeup team were not interested in repeating themselves. Rather, they pushed themselves to refine their craft and explore new territory while remaining true to their roots: unapologetically queer, raw, do-it-yourself horror.

The film follows partners Caleb (Perras-Sanchez) and Adrian (Ahern) to the coastal town of Provincetown, Massachusetts, for a winter getaway. While the purpose of the impromptu respite is ostensibly to rekindle their floundering relationship, Caleb is preoccupied by a search for his missing ex, Isaac (Tradd Sanderson), following an ominous dream. The local townspeople are aloof, save for Eric (Matthew Pidge). The affable stranger volunteers to show the couple around, but the tension between them grows as something more sinister simmers beneath the surface.

Filmmakers are expected to exhibit growth between their first features, but rarely is it as exponential as the surge from Death Drop Gorgeous to Saint Drogo. That’s not to disparage the former — the scrappy, giallo-inspired slasher succeeds in what it sets out to do, reveling in over-the-top camp — but every conceivable metric has been improved upon tenfold. Both micro-budget productions feature much of the same cast and crew, including a brief appearance that implies a shared universe between the two despite the vast tonal differences.

The trio’s assured direction shows increased restraint, while the well-paced story achieves a slow-burn momentum at a scant 78-minutes. The cinematography is sleek and striking, capturing the chilling isolation of a transient community in the off-season. Enveloping sound design is paired with a gracefully melancholic score by Gem Club. Joe Castro’s (Campfire Tales, Iron Sky: The Coming Race) practical effects are as gory as they are convincing, culminating with a gnarly decapitation that rivals vintage Tom Savini. Although uneven in spots, the performances are grounded and the characters feel lived-in. Levity is deployed judiciously, favoring a disquieting atmosphere.

The filmmakers cleverly draw from Saint Drogo — a historical figure venerated in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of shepherds — as fuel for a captivating tale that weaves together the insidious dread of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the folk-horror trauma of Midsommar, and the cult mystique of Eyes Wide Shut. At once contemporary and timeless, turning Drogo’s patronage on its head serves as an allegory for ostracization that speaks directly to queer culture but is also applicable to any outsider who has struggled with identity and belonging.

Saint Drogo played at the Salem Horror Fest 2023.

The post ‘Saint Drogo’ Review – ‘Death Drop Gorgeous’ Filmmakers Elevate Their Game with New Horror Movie appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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