What do you get when you mix Dead Silence‘s Mary Shaw and Stay Alive‘s Elizabeth Bathory? I'd like the result would be something along the lines of Lilith Ratchet, the absolutely terrifying villain and titular character from Eddie Lengyel's newest feature The Curse of Lilith Ratchet, and the latest entry in the American Poltergeist saga from ITN Distribution.
The film follows Alice (KateLynn E. Newberry) and her best friend Lauren (Brianna Burke), who inadvertently set a hellish curse in motion after surprisingly acquiring a mysterious shrunken head. Wanting to know more about their fiendish find, they pay a visit to a popular paranormal podcast host Hunter Perry (Rob Jaeger) of "Beyond the Veil". Hunter discovers it's true authenticity of the ages-old object and in hopes of creating a rating boost, he plans a live podcast in which the tale of the shrunken head will be introduced to the masses. Little do they know by playing the game and calling her name they will release the malevolent demonic spirit of Lilith Ratchet.
Within the first few moments we are introduced to Lilith and I must say that it's been quite some time since I've been truly creeped out by a horror film's antagonist, but Ms. Ratchet definitely did the trick! But I'll cover her more in a bit. Right out of the gate we're treated to our first couple of kills and given a taste of the chills we'll experience throughout the film's runtime. I really appreciate the decision to start things off in this way rather than giving over an hour of exposition and then revealing the villain. Instead, we're given a streamlined and easily understandable backstory for Lilith and thrown right into the action.
Though there are some typical horror tropes at play, they never felt overdone or eye-roll inducing. Honesty, there are a few jump scare moments that are truly brilliant and terrifying. I must also point out the look and story of the film, both are very much on point. The film is chock full of haunting atmosphere and believable locations, and it certainly doesn't feel like your usual low-budget independent feature. The plot moves at a steady pace and definitely carries a slight '90s slasher feel to it, yet it still manages to feel fresh and engaging.
In addition to its wonderful aesthetics and well-written story, The Curse of Lilith Ratchet also features impressive performances from its cast. Most noticeably Lilith, who's skillfully played by Crissy Kolarik. Holy hell, Kolarik steals the show with her outstanding and insanely terrifying portrayal! Each time she appeared on screen, wearing Victorian garb and sporting a razor tooth grin, the creep factor shot through the roof, think of her as a slow stalking Michael Myers combined with a silent Freddy Krueger and doused in ghoulish allure. Hats off to you Crissy, you absolutely killed it! Major props to actor Roger Conners and Lengyel, who both designed Lilith’s outfit (dress, wig, teeth and nails) and to Daniel Blain Click, who provided her makeup. KateLynn E. Newberry and Rob Jaeger, the film's leads, were perfectly charismatic and did fantastic jobs with carrying their roles. I was surprisingly delighted with the character development and was admittedly a bit bummed when certain characters bit the dust. That's character development at its finest!
While there's a lot to love and praise about the film, I do feel the need to mention its long runtime may be off-putting for some viewers and my only personal gripe is with some of the character reactions to certain situations, but this is a minuscule issue that doesn't really detract from the film.
Overall, The Curse of Lilith Ratchet was much better than I expected. It's a well-crafted and chillingly beautiful film that's packed with a whole lot of charm, and Lilith Ratchet herself is a horror villain that I'd love to see more of! If you're a fan of classic Hammer Horror, you'll find a lot to love and a very memorable experience that screams for a sequel!
The Curse of Lilith Ratchet is available now on DVD from most major retailers.