(Full Disclosure: I contributed to the crowdfunding campaign of this movie and have a "producer" credit for this film. I do not have any financial stake in the movie's success, I just happen to think it's a kick ass horror flick you all should see)
The first She Was So Pretty was one of my personal highlights from the inaugural Nightmares Film Festival last year. I had no expectations going in and I was treated to one of the best true indie horror films I had seen in years. Writer / director Brooklyn Ewing's love of the genre shines through in the first installment. There's some Maniac ('80) and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer in the DNA of this film without it being derivative of these older films. The original film is currently available to purchase or rent on Vimeo for next to nothing, so you should definitely check it out.
Here's what you need to know for this franchise - Alfie (played by Jerry Larew) is a creep and he lurks about in a sleepy midwestern town. He's not just a creep that will stare in your windows or steal your underwear, he's something much worse. Poor Alfie is luckless in love and he's constantly looking for a romantic partner to spend time with in his dark apartment and watch some old tapes with him. I don't think you'll be surprised to learn that things go poorly for his "dates."
Alfie is not the only danger in these movies. The gloriously corrupt, callous, and downright slimy Detective Baldwin (played by Corey Rutter) also prowls these same streets. He has transitioned from Alfie's biggest fan to full-on partner in crime. Despite Alfie being a serial killer, Detective Baldwin somehow feels like a worse person because of the abuse of the badge and his authority.
So I am very pleased to report that She Was So Pretty: Be Good for Goodness Sake is even better than the first installment. It gift wraps and delivers everything we wanted in a holiday horror sequel - Alfie gets some more depth, the improved Detective Baldwin (more on that later) is somehow even more of a bastard, we get an intriguing new love interest for Alfie in Eleanore (played by Destiny Brooke Loper), and an increased body-count in festive fashion.
I think we need to talk about Detective Baldwin's character first. Corey Rutter had a tough task as he had to step into the shoes of a character that was introduced in the previous film. From his very first scene in this film, Corey makes the character his own and you'll forget that anyone else ever played this role. I think this stems from a combination of Corey's performance as well as a screenplay that had a clearer idea of what would make the Detective Baldwin character fun and a good foil for Alfie. He has instant chemistry with Alfie and I loved their bad cop / serial killer home invasion routine.
Jerry Larew also gets to develop his Alfie character more in this film and we see this through his interactions with Eleanore and Detective Baldwin. Alfie is a man of few words (although he does talk more than Silent Bob), so this performance is mostly carried by Jerry's physical performance and demeanor. I think you'll discover that you find it hard to hate Alfie despite all the terrible stuff he does to his victims and that is due in large part to Jerry's performance.
We don't get a whole lot of time with new character Eleanore, but she has an important role in this movie and maybe in the ongoing series. Destiny gives the character a quirky charm and she sees something in Alfie that all of his "dates" never could.
Now don't get the wrong idea, just because I said that Corey is fun as Detective Baldwin and Alfie has a weird charm to him that this movie isn't disturbing. There are horrific kills, some impressive gore, and a dinner scene you will long remember. The next day after seeing the movie, I found myself googling weird jell-o mold recipes from the 50's and 60's.
This film looks great. Director Brooklyn Ewing took home the very well-deserved Best Cinematography award from this year's Nightmares Film Festival. The first film had a rougher look and lo-fi sound, which actually served to give it a retro charm that reminded me of the original Maniac. They stepped up their game for this sequel and this film has a lot of iconic shots. I loved the scene of Alfie and Eleanore seeing each other for the first time on opposite sides of a bizzaro Christmas display. There are also great looking scenes in a diner and in a family's home during an invasion.
The score is also awesome and FacexHugger returns to give the film a synth-heavy pulse. The music certainly adds to the mood of the film and I can't imagine it without FacexHugger's score. The soundtrack is available now and you should definitely check it out
As uber horror movie fans themselves, Brooklyn and Jerry clearly understand the importance of an iconic look for a horror character. In the 80's, it was the monster / killer that sold a movie. On posters and VHS covers, we would get Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, etc, front and center to sell the movie. As we have moved away from that decade, horror is usually now marketed with generic images of a woman screaming, floating faces of celebrities, or a focus on a particular location or object. Alfie has a very distinct look with his customary outfit (we don't know if he owns any other clothes) and briefcase, so I'm glad to see that they put him front and center in the marketing.
She Was So Pretty: Be Good for Goodness Sake is still on the festival / convention circuit and I can't recommend enough that you check it out if it comes anywhere near you. It has one of the best new characters in horror in Alfie and you're gonna be mad at yourself if you didn't get in early on this franchise. Follow along with their Facebook so you can find out about upcoming screenings.