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Movie Review: “Beyond the Resonator”

Although Full Moon Features is, to be frank, not what it once was – I find myself coming back to it every now and again. I have a lot of films in Full Moon Features’ archives I want to write more about (including Puppet MasterTrancers, and Subspecies, to name a few), but not many of them are from the modern era.

I will confess – I have watched more of the Evil Bong films than I am proud to admit (they are at nine of them now, if you didn’t know), but I don’t see myself ever sitting down and writing about them at length. Instead, I write about a new Full Moon Feature when I feel it warrants being written about.

Making movies is difficult.

However, … if Patrick Brice can make Creep for a sack of potatoes and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead can make The Endless and Resolution with a smaller budget than what Full Moon Features procured from their Indiegogo campaign for Killjoy’s Psycho Circus (which I backed, by the way), then Full Moon Features can be tried as an adult like everybody else.

I long for the early days of From Beyond or Re-Animator, or even the later years of Head of the Family and The Creeps, back when it was still fun.

When Miskatonic UThe Resonator was released, I offered a mostly unimpressed review of the film. However, I did remark that it was one of the best films Full Moon Features had released in somewhere around a decade, taken as a modest and mostly generic throwback to the good old days of when Stuart Gordon was alive and adapted Lovecraft.

Although Miskatonic U: The Resonator may not have set the world ablaze (and, really, that isn’t what I expect out of a Full Moon Features these days, or ever, actually), the last moments of the film suggested an interesting future for the new series (meeting Herbert West, a la Re-Animator).

Beyond the Resonator is the name of the sequel and it is a fairly short and tidy film – clocking out at 48:25 in total (with six minutes shared on a recap of the last film, an introduction that vaguely reminded me of the introductions from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy, and credits). In other words, Beyond the Resonator is just over 40 minutes – so barely feature length, depending on who you ask.

I’m cool with that.

I won’t act like I am the most in the know these days when it comes to the latest outings of Full Moon Features, but I would think I am among the key demographic of each film. That in mind, I wrote a review of the first film and thought I kept an eye out for anything about a sequel, only to one day notice a second (and third) film had not only entered production but were now available on the Tubi streaming service.

That’s likely for the best, as, unfortunately, Beyond the Resonator is a bit of a mess overall.

At the end of the first film, students at Miskatonic University build “The Resonator”, and are now dealt consequences for that decision. Meanwhile, however, Herbert West has entered the fray. Herbert’s story is the most entertaining and noteworthy aspect about the film.

The actor Josh Cole is faced with the tall order of trying to match the performance of Jeffrey Combs from Re-Animator, and while he can’t and doesn’t, he is satiable overall. At first, he feels a little more like a cosplay of Herbert West, with a wardrobe that doesn’t feel lived in and a portrayal that feels like an impression, but he grew on me as the film progressed.

The scenes with Herbert West, however, leave a lot to be desired. The film has a more modern twist to it, but it is essentially a remake of the first half or so of Re-Animator, with the only difference being that it comes off more like a fan film with ambition.

Every scene that doesn’t involve Herbert West, I struggled to care about, and I can’t say I was made to care much about West’s story either – again, it’s a rehash that adds nothing new to the character or classic story.

The score by Richard Band is decent. I usually like Richard’s contribution to Full Moon Features and consider it among the biggest highlights of the entire catalog. They’re simple, classical, and feel fun.

Unfortunately, the cinematography has taken a real nosedive since the early days of Full Moon Features, with visuals so bright they look uncanny and fake, like everything was shot under the heat of a million light bulbs (or at a popular YouTubers’ house). Aesthetics are very important. Imagine a scene in a morgue: darkly lit, the only light shown is from the stab of a flashlight or the bleeding in of moonlight from a nearby window. Or downstairs in a basement? The classic flicker of a light bulb about to die out? In this film, everything looks clean and sanitized.

The acting is mostly mediocre. I say that with the understanding that it will have less to do with the actors involved and more to do with what is asked of them and what they’re allowed to do.

Character developments are under cooked and frivolous, and they’re forgotten about as soon as they are introduced. Attempts at drama fall flat because of this. This is the reason why the scenes carrying the plot from the last film fail – they expect me to care about something they haven’t made me care about.

Scenes that could’ve been fun (in the same Re-Animator rehashed kind of way as the rest) are reduced to clips in a montage. Anyone remember Herbert stealing a body out from a morgue? That’s in here, but only as a brief summary. Likewise, there is a character’s death wedged into the montage that left me scratching my head in confusion.

Sloppy is a good word for Beyond the Resonator.

respect the idea of wanting to pay homage to Stuart Gordon, but it doesn’t at all feel like it came from the same company that helped make the actual films some forty years prior (and it isn’t, technically, that was Empire, this is Full Moon, but I digress).

It irks me a bit, really. I want to like the film. I like the general idea. The same way I like the general idea of Full Moon Features in general. I can imagine this film as good. I can see a scenario where they combine the elements of From Beyond and Re-Animator and make a fun, enjoyable film. I can imagine how Full Moon Features manages to finally create a cohesive Full Moon Universe out of it. Imagine one day a great, great grandson of Toulon arrives with a trunk of Puppet Master characters? You think Herbert West might be at all interested in the serum that brings them to life? There are possibilities for a lot of fun to be had and I’m all for it.

This though, this isn’t it.

Rating: – 1.0 out of 5.0

Written by Nicholas "Nick" McConnaughay

Nicholas McConnaughay is a writer of books and a connoisseur in the fine art of storytelling. He spent his formative years binging slasher films like Child's Play and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and blames that for some of his quirkier tendencies.

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