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'Elsewhere' takes horror to a new place

Date: 7/7/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Something a little bit creepy is featured in this week's DVD review column.


Low budget horror and suspense films are a dime a dozen, but "Elsewhere" stands above the crowd. This independent production stays away from the standard elements of the genre - there is no nudity and very little on-screen violence.

In other words, writer and director Nathan Hope wants to present something more mature, something a little deeper than the typical horny-soon-to-be-dead teenager movie.

"Elsewhere" is set in small town in Indiana. Sarah (Anna Kendrick) has a pretty standard teen life of high school, a part-time job and coping with life as a child of divorce.

Her best friend Jillian (Tania Raymonde) has a greatly different life. Sexually active and dying to get of the town, she cruises for guys through her Web page. She plays the dangerous game of even meeting some of them and one day she disappears.

Her mother doesn't care. The police won't investigate. Only Sarah is concerned, along with another high school friend.

She discovers that Jillian isn't the only girl from the wrong side of town to have vanished in the past several years.

Part "Nancy Drew," part 21st century cautionary tale, "Elsewhere" develops into a pretty solid little thriller. Hope is also a cinematographer and although he wasn't behind the camera for this movie, the film has a great look that few low budget features have.

The performances are surprisingly good with Kendrick delivering an effective but low-keyed characterization and Raymonde - who has been a regular on "Lost" and "Cold Case" is bitter but vulnerable as Jillian.

"Elsewhere" is well worth checking out.

The Hunger Season One

It's difficult to produce a horror anthology series these days that breaks new ground. The two shows associated with the late writer Rod Serling - "The Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery" - still pack a punch decades after their original run on television.

I fondly remember "Tales from the Darkside," back in the 1980s, that was partly the brainchild of famed horror director George Romero. I never cared much for "Tales from the Crypt" or "Freddy's Nightmares," although those shows did have their fans.

The "Masters of Horror" series on Showtime, featuring hour-long productions directed by people such as John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Stuart Gordon, Dario Argento and Joe Dante, was pretty impressive.

Not having Showtime in the 1990s, I missed "The Hunger," another anthology show, which is now out on DVD in a four-disc set.

All of these shows have to have a point of view or specialty to make them stand out and "The Hunger" is no exception. Its gimmick isn't a crypt keeper; it's sex and nudity.

Although I'm no prude, I have to say that in the episodes I watched from this set - sorry, I didn't sit through all 616 minutes of it - the sexual scenes seem a little forced into the narrative.

The other problem is the writing as a whole is a bit weak with predictable endings or endings that make you scratch your head in wonder.

Perhaps there are some good episodes in this set, but I couldn't find them.