Alone and isolated, disabled war veteran Steve (Jason Alan Smith) lives a relatively solitary existence. Injured in Afghanistan and obviously suffering from PTSD, he’s become a virtual recluse, getting by on his disability cheque and the little money he picks up making minor technical repairs of engines and generators, etc., in his local community, spends his nights drinking alone. Discovering the near naked corpse of local singer Diane (Carlee Avers) dumped in his backyard, Steve briefly finds himself a local celebrity and the police’s number one suspect in her murder.

Interrogated by the sceptical police (Margaret Rose Champagne and Dick Boland) and harassed by the neighbourhood thugs (Ryan Barry McCarthy and Davis Mikaels) who are convinced of his guilt, Steve becomes obsessed with Diane and her murder, erotically fixated on the image of her dead body he snapped on his phone, haunted by memories of her he couldn’t possibly have…or could he?

Plagued by dreams and visions of a malevolent phantom Diane that start to bleed into his reality, demanding that he keep his promise to her, Steve is forced to uncover the truth about Diane’s death before it’s too late…

A noirish tale of guilt, regret and erotic obsession masquerading as a supernatural thriller, Diane holds few surprises, it’s major plot twist easily divinable and telegraphed from the film’s melancholy opening. Mongillo’s script however is tighter than a drum and the atmosphere he creates is cloying, unsettling, his protagonist Steve both ambiguous and sympathetic, a sinner sure, but perhaps a justified one?

As the disabled war veteran-cum-murder suspect, executive producer and lead actor Jason Alan Smith is a revelation, delivering a raw, vulnerable performance that hints at the violence barely held in check, bubbling under his otherwise placid exterior, his drinking and his almost flagellant interactions with the local thugs harassing him betraying a self-destructive streak that may ultimately consume him.

Tight, tense and spare, Diane is a haunting little tale of love, obsession and redemption, a ghost story where the ghosts are your own memories.

Horror Channel Frightfest Review: Diane
3.0Overall Score
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