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Convergence (2015)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

CONVERGENCE (2015)

Starring: Clayne Crawford, Ethan Embry, Mykelti Williamson, Gary Grubbs, Chelsea Bruland

Written and Directed By: Drew Hall

The Shot

Convergence is a very deliberately crafted horror flick that can easily ride the wrong nerves, but patient audiences are rewarded with a very cool and unique twist that makes it all worthwhile.


The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEESE STUFFED PEPPERS.

You’ve got to bite all the way for the payoff.


Pairs Well With...

SOUTHERN COMFORT & SOUR.

For some, it’s sippin’ delicious.  For others, it just causes them to make faces and order something else.

“He said there was going to be an exodus; that the Church had abandoned wrath, fire, and brimstone for a God who offers peace, love, grace, and forgiveness.  You’ll find none of that here.”


The second feature length motion picture I saw during the film festival attached to Phoenix Comicon 2015 turned out to be a surprise.

Glancing in the program, I saw a double bill: a short steampunk flick called Aether Prologue, followed immediately by a feature length picture called Convergence.  My seemingly logical conclusion, given an opening piece title that included the word Prologue, was that the feature length movie would be a follow-up to the shorter one, and so I settled in for a couple hours’ worth of steampunk.

Oops.

Convergence is absolutely, positively, one hundred percent not steampunk.  It is in fact a very deliberately crafted, soul-searching horror flick that just happened to be made by some of the same people who’d done the steampunk short.  And that’s okay.  Surprises can be interesting, right?

Of course they can… if you’ve got the patience.

Just before the show started, writer/director Drew Hall (check out our interview when you’re done here) made a bet with the audience that no one would see the twist coming.  Chum thus tossed at the sharks, the lights were allowed to dim…

…and the audience was taken to the American South, circa 1999.  Cop Ben Walls (Clayne Crawford) has been out on paternity leave, but he’s convinced to return to duty early in response to a bombing at an abortion clinic.  As he and other officers do a sweep through the wreckage, they inadvertently come face to indistinct face with the bomber… just in time for him to set off the rest of the explosives.

When Walls regains consciousness, he finds himself to be one of the few patients in a sparsely populated hospital.  His Captain (Mykleti Williamson) is there, as well… and he’s being awfully evasive.  So’s the hospital’s only active nurse (Chelsea Bruland), for that matter.  And the codger in the security office (Gary Grubbs).  And say, why don’t any of the phones work in this place?  Or half the lights, for that matter?  What’s with the crazy black shadows that show up to freak everyone out every so often, and why is it such a bad idea to go down the stairwell?  Wait a minute – isn’t that the bomber?

Unless you are the world’s most clueless person, I guarantee that it will take you a whole lot less time – by what feels like roughly half a movie – to answer all but one of those questions than it does for good ol’ Ben to figure them out.

And that’s okay… provided that you’ve got the patience.  Because if you do, the payoff provided by the answer to that one special question and all of the cool stuff that opens up as a result of that answer are totally worth it.

If you don’t – if you’re not the patient sort and you just want your horror flicks to get right down to the nitty gritty with maybe some shower scene cheesecake tossed in for flavor and oh-please-forget-the-plot – well, then you’ll find Convergence to be so annoying that you probably won’t make it is far as the awesome twist before giving up on it.  And I totally get that.  The acting is always on point and the atmosphere is exceptionally well maintained, but…  The whole “abortion clinic bombing as a catalyst” thing is enough to turn off lots of folks from the get go, and as the story progresses, the dialogue starts to sound more than a bit preachy.  Couple those things with Ben’s overall density regarding the reality of his situation and the apparent halting of all forward progress while the brilliant detective is allowed to catch up, and “annoyance” seems to be a perfectly reasonable reaction to this flick.

I tend to be patient with these things, but I admit that after a while, I started to get annoyed myself.  I was also sure that I – and, judging by a glance, most if not all of the rest of the audience – had won the opening bet less than five minutes into the Second Act (or sooner, depending on how one chooses to define the break).

Then came the revelation that opens the Third Act, and I totally lost the bet.

I don’t think anyone has ever won it, or will ever win it without cheating.

That revelation changes everything… and I’m not going to ruin Convergence by telling you how.  (That would count as the just-mentioned cheating, and totally spoil the fun.)  I’ll just say that it’s fresh and fantastic and absolutely worth the wait; indeed, Convergence is better precisely because its creative team had the patience to wait with it.  And there’s lots of other cool stuff that opens up as a result of the big reveal, including a pre-coda ending that defies all conventional expectations.  Even more impressive: the changes in the Third Act retroactively make the material that came before feel more thoughtful, and less so last-nerve preachy than contemplatively philosophical.

It’s pretty amazing what extra context and a perspective shift can do for a story.

In this case, they transform it into one of the most interesting, well-built indie horror flicks I’ve seen in a while.  It’s definitely not to everyone’s taste – mainstream formula this isn’t, and again, the political and religious material will squick out quite a few folks more than any amount of blood or gore otherwise would – but the risks taken by Drew Hall and his creative team while crafting Convergence pay big dividends for a patient and thoughtful audience.  It’s a refreshing change from the ordinary that gets even more intriguing the longer one thinks about it, and definitely worth the time.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July, 2015


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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