A High School Filmmaker documents his solo journey from Colorado to L. A. in search of the serial killer responsible for the murder of his girlfriend. The film intermixes home footage, real time clips and the eventual climax with the murderer.
February 10, 2016
Valentina de Angelis as Jesse
Adam David as Matt
First thing’s first: Anthony Stabley’s Everlasting isn’t a horror film. It is an extremely dark, depressing and bleak drama. In other words, it’s going to fit fairly well in the lineup of things for most genre fans, so don’t invest much of anything in the film’s classification. Any of that mumbo jumbo is irrelevant, and Everlasting does its job of forcing the belly into the bowels, disturbing at frequent intervals. It’s also got an artistic power about it that comes appreciated and respected.
A second thing of important note: Watching Everlasting uninterrupted is basically what I would consider essential. This painting isn’t created using pens; this is character driven inventiveness, entirely, so the story and all details are crucial pieces of the puzzle. The performances are of particular significance. If you tune in with a hazy mind, thinking about work, your girlfriend, or your pet project, you’re going to miss the passion in the production and the effort from a generally green yet spirited cast and crew. To watch it with half a heart is to deny it the chance to succeed in being what it’s supposed to be. If that’s your approach, just give it a pass.
The story is really about love and opposing forces. These things are explored through confessionals and flashbacks that male lead, Matt (Adam David) shares with an open audience. In the opening moments of the film he explains that his love disappeared, and soon after turned up, a cold corpse with signs of some disturbing behavior from an unknown murderer. So, Matt sets out on a mission to find the person responsible. But first he wants you to know who Jessie (Valentina de Angelis), his girl, was, so you can actually give a damn about her grim fate. And so we see the couple’s last days together before eventually landing on the doorstep of a madman.
It’s a long journey, but we do indeed get to know Jessie. And, we care about her. She’s a troubled kid looking to find herself. Matt’s a troubled kid with a loving family and a hopeful, if uncertain future. The two make for a good couple. They’re dark and gloomy together. They tell tales of murder together. They fantasize about all things melancholy. They do everything together, until Jessie decides she wants to head for the big city. She wants to be a model. She wants to be a star. But most of all, she wants to be away from her mother. She wants liberation, and it could be said, in some terrible way, that she finds it.
Before I get into some of the greater strengths of the film, let me just get the negatives out of the way. Fortunately for all parties, there’s really only one thing that could dramatically improve the film, and that’s a break in the moment in the early portion of the third act. The film hits this place, shortly before the big finale, where things start to lull just a bit. The picture could, in my opinion, take on an entirely different life if for only a small insertion of some sort, some kind of bang before the explosion, if you will. Even saying such a thing, there’s enough life in the film to follow along and see it all through.
Now, while the acting can be a tad wooden in a few moments, I don’t really consider that much of a weakness, as both David and de Angelis put forth tremendous effort and a lot of dedication to this project. It’s quite clear that it’s a very low budget film, but neither of the two ever give us a hint that they’re not all the way in. It’s a fine quality to find in a film. And the pros don’t end there, as Stabley’s pic is artistic enough – often leaning on symbolism and interesting camera techniques – to really admire. The man’s willingness to do some different things pays off, and deflects our attention from the visually detectable fiscal limitations. I like that, a lot. In my opinion, that’s something you want to see from a filmmaker headed in the right direction, not settling into a stalemate or moving backward.
Everlasting is a very well-crafted piece of work. It may not appeal to those who prefer faster, more action oriented films, but the story is solid, the performers (I haven’t even tipped my hat to genre faves Robert LaSardo, Pat Healy and Michael Massee, who all turn in top flight work in small but memorable roles) are awesome and the picture ultimately delivers in a big way. We walk away having met two fine onscreen personalities, absorbed beautiful efforts from a few veterans, and taken in a gratifying climax that takes the film into the darkest realms it reaches. It’s a win for Anthony Stabley and the crew of this small film with a big heart.