A Chronicle of Corpses

Philadelphia writer-director Andrew Repasky McElhinney has been compared to outsider artists for his unsophisticated technique and naive but singular vision, an idea borne out by this low-budget tale (2001) of a 19th-century family decimated by mysterious murders on its island plantation. The film is a series of Gothic tableaux quoting from horror flicks by Roger Corman (House of Usher) and Hammer Studios (The Brides of Dracula), yet its tone is muted, almost poetical. Abe Holtz's chiaroscuro cinematography and the classical music excerpts create an air of doom, but McElhinney fails to unite his set pieces or properly pace the Agatha Christie-like serial killings, and any emotional resonance is undermined by the implausible script. Soap actress Marj Dusay, heading a no-name cast, is grotesquely neurotic as the family matriarch. 83 min.

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