Directed by Anna Mikami
Written by Matthew Sorvillo
Starring Isabella Pisacane, Jamie Donnelly, Abby Awe, Rosa Gilmore, Craig Walker, Lisa Chamberlain, Joe Coleman, Sarah-Grace Donnelly, Skyler Gallun, Jack Layer, Peter Morgan
Find out more about this film here!!
Gail (Isabella Pisacane) works in her grandmother’s shop called Morbid Curiosities, which buys and sells all kinds of weird stuff, including serial killer memorabilia. When a series of murders begin occurring in the area, the shop piques the interest of a cop investigating the crimes named Janice (Rosa Gilmore). When Gail begins receiving unmarked boxes of memorabilia and strange phone calls identifying the contents of the box as trinkets tied to the recent killings, she is perplexed as to what to do. The killer on the phone reveals to Gail that she may have familial ties to a serial herself. With her grandmother Margot (Jamie Donnelly) never revealing any information to Gail about her parents, Gail begins to believe what the voice on the phone is saying. Meanwhile, the bodies are piling up, all of them with ties to the shop.
I once went to a serial killer convention on a lark a while back and it was an extremely odd experience for me. Not only because of the event was sort of celebrating and aggrandizing those who took the life of others, but also for the morbid trinkets on display and the folks who seemed to really be into the subject matter. While I don’t want to pass judgment on those who attended those types of things, it did have a different kind of feel than regular horror conventions I’ve been to. One can understand why it would be the perfect sort of fodder to make a downright creepy movie and that’s exactly what SOUVENIRS is. The film isn’t necessarily gory or violent in any way. Still, the film has a dark and foreboding feel to it that I couldn’t shake.
SOUVENIRS is more of a darkly psychological mystery thriller than a straight up horror film. It’s not a film that looks for a high body count or spatter. The film is much more of a character piece examining where violent acts come from—the old nature or nurture argument, where it is questioned whether the need to take a life is in the blood or in the upbringing. For Gail, it might be both as the odds are stacked against her that she has serial killer in her genes. Still, that doesn’t mean she is the one doing the killings. The mystery comes from whether or not we can trust the protagonist we’ve been following the whole film, and Anna Mikami is quiet with the answers and clues for quite a long time.
Even though this isn’t your typical slasher film, I enjoyed watching Gail’s journey of discovery mainly because the acting in SOUVENIRS is top notch. Isabella Pisacane has a wonderful Angela Bettis in MAY quality as Gail, where she seems very innocent, but may very well have a bent side that comes out from time to time. Her morbid sense of humor and awkward way of interacting with the world causes both unease and a little bit of sympathy. Pisacane really shines in this role. Other standouts are Abby Awe as Gail’s plucky and lovable friend Alexa and the off kilter demeanor of Jamie Donnelly as Grandma Margot. There’s also a nice small performance by Craig Walker as an incarcerated serial killer that felt genuine and surprisingly nuanced. All around this is a well made and acted little film.
SOUVENIRS isn’t bombastic or in your face. It’s a subtle look as a young girl in crisis who is desperate to find out about her past, but also afraid of what she will find. This is a quiet and soulful little dark offering that is chilling without going about the usual horror route of excess and over-saturation. Recommended for those who like horror on the lighter side and subtle psychological descents.