Though the budget is low on this one, you have to give director/writer David A. Cross credit for shooting for the moon with an original concept with themes that have classic horror written all over it. With performances that are pretty darn effective, RESPIRE turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
The plot of RESPIRE hangs on the legend that there is power in the last breath a person takes. The ambitious opener does a decent job of recreating Germany circa WWII, even though it is somewhat obvious this wasn’t shot on location. Director Cross does a decent job with some costumes, some somewhat authentic looking locales, and some digital animation to make this passable (it kind of reminded me of the charm of the old Hollywood films where they tried to make the locales authentic, but the fact that it was filmed on a sound stage was obvious). Cross then skips through time after the scientist is killed, following a trinket box through the ages, passing from house to house, pawn shop to yard sale, until it ends up in a trinket shop with an owner who is dying of cancer. When word gets out that the owner has the box, she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous bidding war for the immortal breath sealed within the box. But once what’s locked in the box is unleashed, horror of the coolest kind ensues.
Sure the concept is a bit goofy, but I admire this film for its originality and spunk. Writer/director Cross makes the best of the low budget by making up with some pretty impressive imagery of shock and terror. The actors, especially the lead played by the beautiful Tracy Teague, are pretty great here as well. Though some of the other actors seem to be a bit young and miscast, Teague has a nice quality here combining strength with vulnerability as a person who is trying to be strong facing her mortality and discovering the possibility of a cure to extend her life. RESPIRE isn’t going to blow your doors off, but does effectively use some shocking imagery and dare venture down new and exciting halls of horror. If you’re sick of stale films about zombies and vampires, RESPIRE is sure to be a breath of fresh air.