MovieCriticND's blog

The Spirit Machine

Almost a century ago, Thomas Edison (Steve North) invented something he called The Spirit Machine. Also almost a century ago, that machine was lost and it has now passed into the realm of myth and urban legend. But as it turns out, not only is the machine still around, it can actually do what Edison claimed: allow the user to talk to the dead.

The spirit machine in action. That Edison knew his stuff.


Clarity begins with a family party in a mansion in Las Vegas, headed by matriarch Sharon (Dina Meyer). Vegas isn't really run by the mafia anymore, but it seems that not so long ago Sharon's husband had a lot of shady dealings and his widow is still extremely wealthy. Once apparently an enforcer, Malcolm (Tony Denison) now acts as unofficial uncle and deeply intimidating guardian to Sharon and her four kids -- three biological sons and adopted daughter Maggie (Dana Melanie), now embarking on med school.

Movie poster. We could all use a little more clarity in life.

The Basement

Somewhere in Budapest, there's a mysterious basement, though 'basement' seems too tame a word for something that spreads out for blocks and is filled with twisting hallways, dead ends, and doors that unlock only when they feel like it. The basement is private property and difficult to find, but rumors of its existence are everywhere, attracting ghost hunters and thrill seekers from all over the world.

The seance, just before it goes horribly wrong.

Die! Sitter! Die! Rupert

It's possibly a touchy subject to bring up, but all questions about health insurance aside I think pretty much everyone can agree that the cost of medical care is crazy-high. Ask Alison (Caitlin Reilly), who's just been handed the bill for her mother's chemotherapy, the part that insurance won't cover: $12,868.75, because heaven forbid it should ever be a round number. That extra 75 cents just feels like a slap in the face.

Alison discovering that babysitting isn't such an easy gig.


When caring for a loved one in their final days, that person can easily become the entire world to their caregiver. This is exactly what happened to Holly (Roxy Bugler). who's just lost her mother after a long and painful illness. Now Holly is at loose ends, and among her mother's last words were a wish for Holly to find someone she could be happy with, the same way her parents were happy together.

Holly is having some trouble adjusting to her future mother-in-law.

Fighting Belle

Southern beauty queen Delilah (Jessica Harthcock) has gone all out for her wedding day. The guests are assembled, the attendants are ready, and the $5,000 cake is waiting to be eaten. Granted, her mother (Carol Ann Scruggs) is slightly terrifying in her mood swings, and Charlene (Mallory Hynes) is being a typical younger sister, but Delilah is marrying Kelvin (Ryan Czerwonko), the man of her dreams, and all's right with the world.

Delilah and Tandy get off on the wrong foot.

The Night Watchmen

It's all over the news -- the nation is mourning the death of the beloved clown Blimpo (Gary Peebles), struck down along with his entire clown troupe by a mysterious disease while on tour in Romania. I didn't think there were any beloved clowns anymore, unless Pennywise counts, but for purposes of The Night Watchmen assume that Blimpo was indeed beloved. Due to the suddenness of these deaths, the troupe's bodies have been shipped quickly back to the US for autopsy.

Because you need that nice, dramatic cast picture.

Fashionista (Fantasia 2017)

Sometimes people are lucky enough to be able to turn a passion into a business. April (Amanda Fuller) is in that enviable position, as is her husband Eric (Ethan Embry), co-owners of Eric's Emporium, a resale clothing shop somewhere in Texas. As far as April's concerned, clothes are oxygen. She even tries to breathe them in sometimes -- she also has a passion for sniffing clothes that's vaguely disturbing. Admittedly I'm not the one to ask about anything clothing-related, since I hate shopping for them and have no idea what goes with what. Yes, I am female.

Yes, April is buried somewhere under all those clothes.

Attraction (Fantasia 2017)

In any first contact scenario, there are about ten thousand ways for a great many people to end up dead and only a handful of possibilities where things go well. When a first contact begins with an alien ship crash-landing into the heart of a major city like Moscow, as it does in Attraction, the odds of anything good coming out of it go down considerably. To be fair to the aliens, the crash wasn't their fault -- though already damaged, the ship was still doing all right until the Russian military threw missiles at it.

The colonel & the bureaucrat meet an alien. Nothing like a little first contact.

The Honor Farm (Fantasia 2017)

There's a lot of pressure on teenagers to have a perfect prom night, and the kids in The Honor Farm are certainly feeling it. Even if you're one of the relatively cool kids, as Lucy (Olivia Grace Applegate) seems to be, that's still no guarantee of a magical evening. Things start out pretty well, but when boyfriend Jake (Will Brittain) gets falling-down drunk, Lucy flees the prom in tears with best friend Annie (Katie Folger).

The kids stare at the moon. They'd forgotten how psychedelic it can be.