Secret Screams

September 11, 2012 at 3:23 am (5 Heads)

During the bewildering prologue, a woman drives a car while being choked by a maniac. Her assailant is decapitated in the resulting collision. Skip to the present. A shaggy paranormal investigator meets the woman. Despite her mean and deranged demeanor, the investigator agrees to help confront a headless ghost haunting the inn she owns. After the typical spectral manifestations, hovering objects, and spooky sounds, the ghost is revealed to be the maniac killed in the prologue, the woman’s psychopathic father. Their relationship of abuse, rape, and murder is exposed during a seance which degenerates into a brawl. In the overlong climax, the father becomes a shambling corpse and must be beheaded once more.

Secret Screams is cheap and uninspired, but it tries hard. Disembodied noises and poltergeist happenings effectively build chills, and Beethoven’s Fur Elise is used memorably. Plus, the soft shadowy lighting and genuine rural locations create atmosphere. I especially dug Homer’s Spa, a convenience store and bar populated by unfriendly townies. Unfortunately, Secret Screams’ pacing falters, offering revelations too soon and dragging on afterward. Likewise, the ghost’s plentiful face time greatly diminishes the impact of its otherworldly presence.

Also called Grave Secrets, Secret Screams is the directorial debut of producer Donald P. Borchers—known for Children of the Corn (1984), Vamp (1986), and Leprechaun 2 (1994). While that’s not a stellar track record, Borchers and the Secret Screams’ experienced cast work diligently. Sadly, their effort never generates enough momentum to make anything but time-wasting entertainment.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. Praying it was real, I researched Homer’s Spa. Alas, no information was forthcoming.

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