One of the best independent films in 2020 is soon to descend on audiences with the release of Arthur Reyes’ horror film Psychopomp. Reyes wrote the film’s screenplay and he obviously embraces the sort of horror film we see too rarely nowadays – one depending as much on psychological effects as gore, shock value, or other similar effects. Such a film isn’t possible without solid writing driving the story along and Reyes’ debut effort as a screenwriter serves notice that he has both the chops and imagination necessary to impress modern audiences. The movie stars first time film actor Bret Corey in the role of Archie Finch. Archie is injured in a mysterious accident and amnesia ensues. The appearance of a mysterious entity over his television set complicates Finch’s recovery, to say the least, and sends him tumbling into a nightmare world that keeps viewers and Finch alike questioning everything they see.
The trailer casts this film in the mold of David Lynch’s work and this is, at least, one instance of hype matching the content. Reyes isn’t a rank imitator. He has, instead, copped the same sense of the surreal and phantasmagoric pervading many Lynch productions. Reyes manages to stamp his own personality on assorted cinematic touches, some of them recalling the aforementioned famed director, but often distinguishing themselves for how Reyes has adapted long-useful vehicles to serve his own cinematic purposes. Any talented filmmaker aspiring to artistic success, if nothing else, must be skilled at pouring old wine into new bottles.
Psychopomp, obviously, doesn’t look like your standard marquee Hollywood fare. The superiority of one’s production values over another is in the eye of the beholder and beyond the purview of this review; it can be said, however, that the movie looks polished and first rate. Small budget or not, Reyes and his production company Shadow Lake have spared no expense to present audiences with a professional product. The editing contributes to the movie’s potential appeal, as well, helping to underline or accentuate high points in the story.
The narrative thrust of this movie never lags. It clocks in at ninety minutes and Reyes, from the first, demonstrates an innate understanding of how films such as this demand a strong storytelling thrust. Sideshows are scarce and his cast remains focused throughout the cut. Many of them are movie newcomers like Reyes, but there are ringers scattered throughout the cast who bring the expected professionalism and skill to their respective tasks in the production. Psychopomp is scheduled for a limited release at this time, but there’s a good chance its reach could expand if its given the proper coverage and exposure. Arthur G. Reyes will be heard from again, I am certain of that, and will be a forceful creative presence in the independent film community for many years to come. Based on this movie alone, I am interested in seeing any work born from his evocative visual sense and storytelling imagination. Psychopomp deserves its billing as one of 2020’s most promising horror film releases.