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  Absence of Light, The Conventional CastingBuy this film here.
Year: 2006
Director: Patrick Desmond
Stars: Richard Conant, Eric Thornsberry, Tom Savini, David Hess, Caroline Munro, Rick Scarry, Michael Berryman, Tony Todd, Tom Sullivan, Kevin Van Hentenryck, Robyn Griggs, Rebekah Gardner, Mark Cullison, Keith Kline, Linda Orick, Fritz Chess
Genre: Horror, Action, Thriller, Trash, Science Fiction
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: There are two secret factions in this world vying for power, and they are conducting a long battle behind the scenes of influence so that most people would be utterly unaware of their existence. Today one side have carried out an assassination on a woman who could have been crucial, but they planted a bomb in her car, then sent a team of armed motorcycle stunt riders to chase her so that not only was she shot dead at the wheel, but the car blew up as well. This incident brings in hitman Puritan (Richard Conant), a man who is all about getting the job done no questions asked - until now...

Opening with a quote from Benjamin Disraeli which makes barely any sense would seem a brave move for a low budget conspiracy thriller, but as it turns out it was all too appropriate, for what follows for the next seventy minutes or so makes barely any sense as well. The brainchild of auteur Patrick Desmond, the selling point of this little item was that he had managed to secure the services of a bunch of stars who were well-liked in horror and science fiction circles. However, in practice this looked more like Desmond had approached them in car parks and hotel corridors and asked them to read part of the script he just happened to have with him.

Amateurish can mean enthusiastic, which is usually a good sign even when the cash flow was less than forthcoming, but in the case of The Absence of Light (that would be darkness then?) it plays out more that Desmond threw himself so bodily into his project that he ended up stumbling and crashing to the ground in a heap. Very little of this makes sense, apparently inspired by spending too much time on conspiracy websites with all the pitfalls of logic that indicates, but that might not have made so much difference if there had been any character recognisable as a hero here. There is not, and Puritan's posturing through a series of brief action scenes and far longer dialogue bits does not make for much of a guide.

What story can be ascertained involves a corrupt Senator, called Criswell (Rick Scarry) - where can they possibly have got these names? - where one faction is trying to cover up his womanising and the other is trying to expose it. There is a sex tape that would apparently be incriminating, except you might notice that such material is only viable if the target of your blackmail is actually in the tape as well. In the meantime, Tom Savini and Tony Todd look to be doing a favour, Michael Berryman and Caroline Munro have a sit down and look as if they're unsure of what their purpose here is (as you will) and David Hess shouts a lot. So that this is not some dry thriller, we also get dream sequences with vampires and a CGI octopus, along with home computer crafted heavies who are part of an experiment to create troops which cost 90 billion dollars (!). To say they shouldn't have bothered is an understatement, and while you don't want to be too harsh on a filmmaker making the best of limited resources, the entertainment value here is negligible, to say the least. Music by Andy Halter and Todd Skeie.

[The Region 2 DVD of this has a making of, a special effects featurette, an interview with Caroline Munro, outtakes, and also an introduction from Michael Berryman where he implores us to "Question!" How about, "Why am I watching this?" for a question?]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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