Wednesday, March 16, 2016

GRANDPA'S PSYCHO (2015): A Swing and a Miss

Theatrical Poster for GRANDPA'S PSYCHO (2015) - Fair Use asserted

As a film project, "Grandpa's Psycho" (2015) had a promising beginning. It started with a clever concept. Indie writer-director Danny LeGare came up with a psychological horror- thriller story idea with a surprise ending. He devised a plot twist designed to throw the audience for a loop at the end. The question is, does this story deliver on its promise? How does it play on the screen?

The "psycho" in this film is Grandpa Murry (Gunther Granpo). Murry has a crazy but plausible reason for killing. He owns a cabin in an isolated location (a "cabin in the woods"). Here he can carry out his twisted designs on women he sees as "sinful." The nearby town where he owns a business has plenty of sleazy young bimbos for victims.
Murry's serial-killing behavior doesn't change much over the course of the story. That's okay because the focus here is on character. The film is a study of Murry, who becomes unhinged after to his wife's death. He begins to read and interpret the Bible much more than real-life Catholics do. As a result, he develops a psychotic interpretation of his Catholic faith. He's certain that he's on a mission from God to kill sinners after converting them.
But there's more to it than that. There's something strange about his divorced adult daughter and his granddaughter. Murry spends a lot of time with the latter at his isolated cabin. Here he provides daycare services so that his daughter can work. This situation sets up the possibility that someone will discover his torture-murder habit. This situation does develop, but not in the way that the film leads its viewers to expect.   
The title of the film alludes to this major plot twist. The trick is in the interpretation of the apostrophe. Yet a clever title isn't enough. A film has to tell its story in a way that makes viewers believe it. They must be able to suspend disbelief, at least during the time that they're watching.
So, what's the problem with "Grandpa's Psycho"? Execution, that's what. This indie horror-thriller flick's problems begin with a weak script. LeGare didn't develop his main character beyond the two-dimensional stereotype of a religious nut. His supporting characters are flatter and even more cliched. They have little motivation for their behavior and often have weak lines to go with it.
So the big reveal is not impressive when it comes. The characters it depends on are unbelievable. They don't support the filmmakers' intention to deliver a psychological thriller.
As a result, the film relies on overused filmmaking devices to generate interest. Loud musical cues and sound effects signal that a scene is significant. Flashbacks make the story seem more complicated and suspenseful than it is. The ultimate result is a tedious and artificial experience.
There are technical glitches as well. Scenes at night and in darkened rooms are sometimes too dim to make out what's going on in them. The sound is sometimes out of sync with the picture, especially in the finale. 
With all these problems, it's difficult to tell how well the cast did its job. Granpo does seem capable as a lead actor. It's just that he wasn't given much to work with.
TFK's Rating (on IMDb): 3 out of 10 stars

Disclosure: October Coast provided TFK with access to an online screener of this film for review purposes only. This website and its author received no monetary compensation for this review.