It does my heart good to know that the Midwest is offering up some quality indie cinema to the genre. DarkRider Studios (based out of Indiana) brings to life a fun, sexy, slasher/serial killer-esque film revolving around the unexplained deaths of several webcam models. “Lethal Obsession” pulls together the campiness of late-night, softcore Cinemax sex/mystery films with visceral murder sequences ala’ “The Prowler”.
Elizabeth Waters (played by Kitsie Duncan) owns a fetish website called obsessioncams.com that caters to every perversion under the sun. Her site’s obsessive fanbase is not only ever-growing but is exceeding its normal levels of crazy that culminates in the death of one of her most popular web models on live feed (the model in question is played by adult film star, Memphis Monroe). What is usually a quiet little town gets disrupted by these vicious killings. The small town police department has never dealt with such a violent spree of murders, with the exception of the newly transplanted detective who’s come from Chicago. This case appears to be a reminder of what he’d left The Windy City for in the first place. As bodies pile up, secrets unearth themselves about certain individuals and the police find themselves running 2 steps behind the masked killer at all points. Will they catch up before every single girl is dead?
As was previously stated, 2 ideas came to mind for me instantly when watching “Lethal Obsession”-after dark “Skinemax” films and for some reason, “The Prowler”. All the softcore murder mystery building blocks are here: Cops who clearly aren’t cops (see detective with giant holes in ears from plugs), gorgeous well-endowed women working a “sexy” job, and of course, murder. I write none of this with malice toward these elements as it’s those very things that helped guide me through puberty on several nights after mom and dad went to bed. I have to admit though, I was a bit surprised by the direction the film ended up taking. The murders were quite bloody/gory. Not at all like your typical skin flick, the violence in this film is every bit a horror-based gruesomeness. The gore effects hold their weight against a lot of indie horror films and have a very professional quality. While there so many restrictions when making a film with this kind of gore (i.e., realistic feel, believability, etc.) the team at DarkRider did a top-notch job putting their best foot forward on this debut outing.
The acting in the film is about what one would expect in a film of this nature, with stand-out performances being delivered by Kitsie Duncan and Brad Mills. Duncan’s character is the proprietor of obsessioncams.com and Mills’ character has keyed into his experience that leads him to believe there’s a connection to the killings and the website’s madame. The 30 member cast(!) has a few other good performances, but overall the acting is one of the (only) 3 weak spots in the film. The other 2 being symptomatic of most indie cinema: Sound and lighting. These are 2 technical issues forever plaguing low budget cinema and usually they’re based on budget restraints. While the film definitely looks much, much better than most filmmaker’s first time out, if there’s any critique to make, this would be it. Regardless, “Lethal Obsession” moves beyond the setbacks and tells a great story while creating excellent visuals. Director Chris Jay and his cohorts are on to something big and look to have potential in creating fantastic indie horror. They’ve combined the memorable aspects of 80’s slashers with the modern fears of voyeurism culminating in a kick-ass horror film.