The supernatural horror comedy “Ashes” manages to elicit giggles and scares at the same time in a well-produced film that’s both fun and creepy.
From the beginning, Ashes manages to grab attention with an unexpected but not new tactic that actually works well here. The actors directly address the camera from time to time, and though it’s never fully explained who they are talking to, one assumes that it’s possibly a counselor or therapist.
It works in this film because it allows the characters to dig a bit deeper into how they feel about the events of the film as they progress, giving you insight into their psyche and letting you get to know them, and therefore care about them, more than most horror movies.
The actors are well-cast, and I found myself really liking their characters and becoming invested in the story, which is so bizarre it’s actually laugh-out-loud funny.
A mean old aunt that nobody in the family is particularly close to passes away, and the family is left with disposing of her ashes. This leads to some comedic moments that had me giggling quite a few times. However, the movie does segue into serious territory once possession becomes a factor.
And there are some good old-fashioned jump scares along with interesting characters thrown into the mix, such as a blind paranormal investigator, that keep things from becoming boring. Though honestly, this film really doesn’t drag much at all, and it manages to keep you engaged throughout its hour-and-a-half runtime.
The pinnacle of the film comes when the evil spirit of the aunt manages to possess one of the family members, and things go from funny to freaky fast. The tension builds well, and you want the characters to all make it out okay.
The actors, especially Yumarie Morales and Angelique Maurnae, who play the daughters, create a realistic atmosphere of fear as they deal with the terrifying reality of an evil spirit invading the safe space of their home and what they should do to get rid of it without building the body count.
Though it’s not a particularly gory movie, there’s something infinitely creepy to me about possession, especially when you know you’re helpless — and that helplessness is what makes you really feel for this lovable family.
Writer and director Barry Jay has done a good job here of nabbing the audience with laughs, then keeping viewers glued to their seats while the meat of the story unravels. You’re left with an interesting, eyebrow-raising ending that I can’t wait to see what other horror fans think of.
Though I wouldn’t call it a horror comedy the way What We Do in the Shadows or Evil Dead 2 is, I’d definitely say it’s a horror movie with numerous elements of humor that add to the fun of the story without taking away from the sheer horror of the plot.
It’s well-done, perfectly and believably acted, and funny without being goofy or cheesy. Also, there are a couple of moments where I actually got a bit creeped out not knowing what would happen next (possessed people are so unpredictable). If you’ve considered cremation after you exit this mortal coil, however, you may rethink your decision after you see Ashes!
ASHES is now available on digital and demand.