The Family Way:
Review by Mark Schwab
August 25th, 2018
I am always very impressed when an independent filmmaker receives a less-than-stellar review from us still sends in another film to be put on our hot seat. It shows character and an open mind. Filmmakers Shiva Rodriguez and D. Duckie Rodriguez previously submitted their strange medieval horror short FATHER OF LIES that struggled to tell its period story due to its lack of budget and scattered pacing. However, I am very pleased to say their newest submission is much more on target.
The Rodriguez's new short, THE FAMILY WAY: COMING HOME is again in the horror/mystery genre but set in the present (well, mostly...a title card places the events in 2003) and it gets right down to business with a shocking scene involving a deranged young man (a boy really) named Crawford terrorizing a young girl in the woods. I'm not overstating the "shocking" description of the opening scene - it's disturbing the way director Shiva Rodriguez stages the attack; I'm talking Larry Clark (KIDS)-level ickiness (but done skillfully).
We start to learn a little more about our budding middle-school-aged serial killer as he keeps targeting his fellow young girls in a pathological rage while also using them for "art" (don't ask). Intercut with Crawford's killings is a subplot involving a seemingly normal family where the father is attempting to track the young killer's moves and solve the mystery. As you might imagine, the "normal" family is anything but and a nice twist emerges as to their actual motivations once they meet Crawford face to face.
The most obvious improvement from their previous submission is a very strong lead performance by Nicholas Trivisonno as our young psycho. He's excellent in projecting a demented mind without chewing the scenery and I found myself riveted and totally creeped out by him every time he was on screen. It felt like a real character that Trivisonno created instead of just falling back on the typical scowls and narrowed eyes of lesser actors. The subplot with the family struggles a bit in comparison with some problematic line readings but fortunately the scenes with Trivisonno are so strong that it makes up for enough of the shortcomings to still recommend it.
So I am happy to report that THE FAMILY WAY: COMING HOME is an absorbing and surprising little horror short that I read is in the process of being developed as a feature-length movie which I would wholeheartedly approve of. Get some stronger acting in the family subplot and this could be one hell of a fun and nasty ride.
You can check out the movie on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078PTMW9Q