Directed by: Jack Eagen
Starring: Tom Stadnick, Mara Breindel, Jon Rutland, TJ Lee, Ashley Summerow
All in all, Jack Eagen’s Ringside Rosary is a pleasant surprise in terms of local film production. Oh, it’s not without its problems — many of which are attributable to its $8,000 budget, some of which are more related to uneven acting (exempting TJ Lee as a bleached-blonde, over-the-top psycho) and the kind of shortcomings generally inherent in first features. (Many scenes could be improved by simply shortening them. One scene could be cut altogether with no loss to the film.) There’s also a strangely uneven tone in the film’s — surprisingly strong — violence. One moment, it’s bloody and in your face, the next it’s more tentative or even offscreen. (A particularly brutal murder with a machete is not only done out of frame, but the knife never even seems to get bloodied.) But the film entertains, involves and keeps moving. Most impressive, though, is the film’s ability to look good. The lighting, the camerawork and the terrific use of locations are almost invariably impressive — especially on that budget. For example, Eagen obviously couldn’t afford a crowd for a fight scene, but he pulls it off through clever lighting that makes the scene almost hallucinatory — and possibly even more effective than it would have been with a bigger budget. Yes, there are problems, but there’s also a lot of talent here — and even more potential.
The Fine Arts Theatre will screen Ringside Rosary Thursday, Aug. 15, at 7 and 10 p.m.
In Brief: Despite being constrained by budget and (as is often common with local productions) going on too long, Jack Eagen’s Ringside Rosary is one of the more interesting films to come along from Asheville filmmakers. Surprisingly violent and even more surprisingly uncompromising, it’s a film that proves that budget can be largely overcome by striking cinematography, creative lighting and a good eye for locations. Anyone interested in the local filmmaking scene — or in making films — should check this out.