Diane – USA, 2017 – reviews

Diane is a 2017 American supernatural horror feature film written and directed by Michael Mongillo (Silent Hill: The Unauthorized TrailerThe Wind), based on a storyline by Matt Giannini. The Mean Time production stars Jason Alan Smith, Carlee Avers and Margaret Rose Champagne.

Steve’s lingering injuries and regret from the war in Afghanistan plunge him into a soulless routine until the dead body of a beautiful singer, Diane, is dumped in his backyard. Steve takes a digital photo of her before reporting the murder to the police and soon he becomes obsessed with the dead girl’s image.

Now the prime suspect, Steve is scrutinised by the police, hassled by Diane’s widower, and attacked by self-righteous neighbors. Before long, the malevolent ghost of Diane begins to work a dark spell that leads Steve to strange and startling revelations…

Commenting on the film, director Michael Mongillo told Fangoria‘s Michael Gingold:

” …when writing and directing it, I never found myself pulling from cinematic influences. The photographic essays of Roland Barthes and the more frightening illustrations of Edward Gorey were bigger inspirations than any specific film or cinematic reference point. I find myself describing it in literary terms: To me, it’s Stephen King meets Elmore Leonard.

For me, the goal, in addition to producing something entertaining, is to create honest work about the human condition. Diane is a supernatural thriller, yes, but it’s not really. I read somewhere recently that ghost stories are all actually tales of atonement, and that’s Diane in a nutshell.”

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Mongillo’s skill has been to construct a screenplay that slowly releases the information he needs you to know, when you need to know it. As Steve begins to rationalise his feelings and confusion, the film brilliantly side steps all expectations by detouring into a tragic non-linear, fractured story akin to Jacob’s Ladder meets Memento.” BritFlicks

“The key to the mystery is dropped early, but it takes a while to come into focus – and, in the end, the specifics of how Diane died and in what form she’s haunting Steve are less important than the nuanced, dissociated ordinary nightmarishness of the lead characters’ lives.  Shot in New Britain, Connecticut, it has an interesting washed-out small town look.” The Kim Newman Web Site

” …Alan Smith’s performance will distract you in his borderline one-man show. Michael Mongillo’s commentary on the concepts of love, passion, adoration and eventual obsession is neatly bound into a clear overall theme of ultimate rejection; Diane will lure you into a sense of unexpected desire.” Horror Talk

“We’ve seen this narrative before, of course, but self awareness makes all the difference. Mongillo shifts his style, sometimes abruptly, between the familiar distance of the crime thriller, the soft focus world of Steve’s thoughts, and the unvarnished world Diane inhabits – or inhabited.” Eye for Film

“Unfortunately, Diane’s mystery is tedious, its ghost feels like a soap villain and it gives you revelations to things you just don’t care about. Although the film is technically proficient and its lead actor Jason Alan Smith does a decent job of trying to carry the movie, albeit lumbered with the horrible material he has been given.” The Hollywood News

Main cast:

Jason Alan Smith (Don’t Sleep; Before I Wake; Big Bad Wolf), Carlee Avers (Jekyll; Are You Scared?), Margaret Rose Champagne (Troma’s Monster Kill; Bikini Bloodbath Shakespeare; Rudyard Kipling’s Mark of the Beast), Dick Boland (Bikini Bloodbath Christmas; Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash), Jim Thalman, Doug Tompos, Ryan Barry McCarthy, Davis Mikaels, Kathy Searle, Sewell Whitney, Kathrine Barnes, Bob Bannon, Daniel F. Patterson.

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