“What you don’t believe can kill you”

Review by Hugh Robertson ©2015

Starring: Daniel Bennett, Paul Kelleher, Joe Lombardi, Clair Luckman, Melissa Stanton, Russ Diapper

Written and directed by Russ Diapper

IMDB Synopsis: This Chilling tale follows Justin, a college student living in the small town of Willows End who is assigned to write an article about local folklore. he chooses ‘the whistler’, the local legend of an 19th century serial killer who was cursed by a witch before hanging himself in an old oak tree now dubbed ‘the whistler tree’. Legend has it, go to the tree and whistle… if he whistles back at you, your dead! Justin’s life runs out of control as Halloween approaches and he learns that the legend is very true. its a fight against good and evil, this Halloween, Lock your doors, because the whistler has returned!

Usually whistling in the dark is a way to allay your feelings of fear, but in “The Whistler” it is a way to bring almost certain death.  Cursed by a gypsy to be forever trapped where he died, an ancient serial killer continues to kill in the modern age.  Known as “The Whistler”, his attacks are preceded by a short, melodic whistle.  We first meet this character and his aural warning when he kills a man dressed as a “Killer Clown” who is assaulting a woman.

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Using a battle axe he chops up the clown and then kills the woman.  Meanwhile, while investigating local legends, two friends go to the tree where “The Whistler” hung himself and whistle his short tune.  According to the legend, which they dismiss, they will become his next victims.  One of the friends is killed by “The Whistler” and his friend, Justin, immediately becomes a suspect by the police.  While visiting his friend’s grave, Justin meets a mysterious one-eyed man who tells him to seek the aid of a local witch.

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At first refusing a card with the witch’s name, he later reconsiders and picks it up.  Upon contacting the witch, she gives him a bag of silver bullets with which he can destroy “The Whistler”.  When “The Whistler” comes after Justin and his friends at a Halloween party we have the climax of the film.

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Written, directed, and edited by Russ Diapper, “The Whistler” is an obvious low budget production.  Shot with a static camera, the lighting ranges from adequate to poor.  Night exterior scenes are frequently shot with a single Fresnel which moves and looks unnatural.  The editor applies color filters try to set a surreal atmosphere over some of these shots, but visible grain noise is still present in the dark.   The editing also lacks continuity between some shots.

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While the onscreen audio of the actors is clear and the music is nicely mixed in, offscreen voices are badly dubbed in and sound unnatural.   The lip sync of one actress’s voice is actually off at one point. The gore in the film is minimal and poorly done except for one axe killing in the woods.  Mostly it consists of sprayed blood on the victim.   The acting ranges from the one-dimensional to the poor, with the exception of Daniel Bennett as Justin, who give a decent, naturalistic performance.  Luckily the film is short and it does move at a good pace without becoming boring.

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The DVD was a screener lacks any extras and consists of a single play button on a static menu.  Unfortunately the film is 4:3 letterboxed instead of widescreen and has an annoying strobing effect throughout –  which looks like a bad frame rate conversion. 

On the Smash or Trash scale I give this film a 2.5 out of 10.

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