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The Familiar

USA 2009
produced by
Heather Olive for Story Front
directed by Miles Hanon
starring Bryan Massey, Laura Spencer, Jeff West, Ben Hall, Dalton Olive, Reid Strickland, Stephanie Young
written by Miles Hanon, music by Jackson Moore

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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USA, the rural Midwest, you know the place, where everything is simpler but good, where clear distinctions are made between good and evil and no grey areas are accepted are allowed, where people are so God-fearing they consider nudity a sin but at the same time think carrying guns around is a good thing, essential even, and where Christian faith and family will save you from all evil - unfortunately, this place is presented totally unironically as heaven on earth in this film.

But since a film can't work without a little drama, we are introduced to Sam (Bryan Massey), an ex-pastor who has lost his faith after his wife (Stephanie Young) has died and who has broken off contact to his dad (Ben Hall), also a pastor, too.

Enter Laura (Laura Spencer), the estranged sister of Sam's wife, who has come out of nowhere to stay with him. Laura's hippie believes (she thinks owning guns is a bad thing and follows some new age religion) are in stark contrast to what's accepted locally, and the fact that she once worked as a stripper pretty much brands her as evil, but still she and Sam get pretty close pretty soon.

But there is a terrible secret in Sam's past: 25 years ago, when he was stealing sex magazines (shocker!) from some shack in the woods with a friend, they encountered a demon (evil porn mags then, right?), and now that Laura has arrived, the symbols of the demon are back. This totally makes sense in the context of the film of course, because Laura wants to seduce Sam even though they are not married, so she has to be possessed by a demon (unpossessed women just wouldn't do such things, right?).

But there is a solution for all of this: Sam has to find his faith again, get back together with his estranged father, and then the two of them exorcise the demon with the power of prayer and bible reading - and once the demon is gone, Laura has become a better woman ...


Totally annoying faith-based horror flick, but not for the message it transports but the way it transports it: The whole film is so incredibly blunt it almost hurts, and it also tries to make its points without ever even trying to second-guess them, they are just there - God is good, the demon is bad (though it never does anything but trying to seduce Sam), carrying guns with you is the best thing ever, and nudity is the source of all evil (and let's not even start to talk about sex here). This all would only be half as hard to swallow is it was packaged in a tense and suspenseful film, but there is no supense in The Familiar, it's deliberately slow-moving to the point of boring its audience to death, tells its very simplistic and pulpy story in a way as if it had something profound to say, and culminates in one of the most boring showdowns in horror history. That the whole thing is also very unimaginatively directed and the cast is at best competent (only Laura Spencer is at least making an effort) doesn't help much either of course.

Better stay away from this stinker!!!


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD