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The Psychomanteum (2007)



The Psychomanteum is an artistic, gothic-horror short that creeps across the screen like a black and white acid trip.   If someone were to create a video for the band Nine Inch Nails right after watching David Lynch's Eraserhead, it might look something like this film.  Created by Dave Holt, this 25 minute short is about as close as you can get to pulling a dream out of your sleep and throwing it on the screen.  I won't say that I've never seen a film like it before, but I will say that it's rare to see a film like this work as well as The Psychomanteum works.  It's clear that Mr. Holt is a competent filmmaker and if the purpose of this film is to show what he is capable of, I think he has succeeded.  

The storyline seems intentionally difficult to follow, but revolves around a girl (played perfectly by Megon Kirkpatrick) who hears voices in spite of taking medicine to control such things.  Whether the visions on the screen are in her head or in her past is unclear, but they are startling visions either way; an eyeball pulsating in the wall is stabbed with a knife and appears later in the mouth of the lead character who also eats bloody bread, hits a couple of people with a car, and holds her own brain in her hand.  There isn't much dialog, but a good bit of what is there is distorted and unintelligible.  The disturbing scenes actually are disturbing, which is another rare achievement in independent film.  Conceptually, this is not your standard horror movie in any way.  The packaging for the film looks professional.  The acting is good.  The film is shot and edited very well.  Actually, a lot of the techniques that Mr. Holt uses don't usually work, but in the context of The Psychomanteum, they really add to the movie rather than detract from it.  This film makes me want to see more of Dave Holt's work and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark, artistic imagery.

Gore-o-meter rating: 3 out of 5
(strange and unusual gore)

Skin-o-meter: 0 out of 5 (no nudity)