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House on Rodeo Gulch

  • Jon Donnis Aug 14, 2017


    Synopsis
    Uprooted from her childhood home in Texas by her father's new job, sixteen-year-old Shani Peterson (Megan Jay Simrell) moves to California with her new step-mom, Denise (Chanel Ryan). Their new home, located deep in the redwoods of Central California is a dream come true... until it's not. With an over friendly Reverend and his alcoholic assistant as their only neighbors, Shani and Denise must unearth the haunting mysteries of the house and its history, before they lose their home, or lives.

    Review By Jon Donnis
    House on Rodeo Gulch is a psychological thriller set in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz, California. And the first thing that you will notice when watching this is how beautifully this is shot. I know I really appreciated some of the angles, and scenery, really beautiful area.

    The film follows a mother and daughter after they move into this beautiful house, nothing could possibly go wrong could it, well just when you think everything is perfect life has this annoying way of turning everything upside down. As things start to happen in the house, we are at first led to believe it is the paranormal, but as the story unfolds, the truth turns out to be just as if not more terrifying. So is there anyone out there who can help? Perhaps the next door neighbour, a respectable Reverend, with a big old cross dangling from his next. Surely he cant be involved right?

    There is even a scene that I personally would consider the perfect embodiment of one of my own biggest fears, I wont spoil it, but lets just say after I finished watching the film, I will be checking things even closer than usual. And that is the point about this film, it does well when it comes to making you think.

    That's not to say the film is without humour, it has some good moments which made me laugh, not to mention some perfectly acceptable and enjoyable gratuitous moments with the stunningly gorgeous Megan Jay Simrell running about in her underwear.

    I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable old fashioned psychological thriller, with some stand out moments, and some creepiness that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

    I watched this on a Saturday night all alone in the dark, my advice to you is perhaps leave one light on. Just in case. Oh and never mess with a cute girl in her underwear, you never know where she might be concealing her gun.

    I give this film a decent 8/10


    About the Cast
    Chanel Ryan - International Actress and Model, Chanel has appeared in over twenty feature movies having worked along side such great stars as James Caan, Sean Astin, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Sinise and Bill Murray to name of few. She is also internationally recognized as one of the world's hottest models having graced the covers and inside magazines such as Esquire, GQ, Playboy, Maxim, People and FHN among others. A few years back she was voted the hottest model in three different continents.

    Barry Radcliffe - has over twenty feature credits to his name (Ted 2, Masterminds, The Witches of Oz, among others). In addition, his has one of the most recognizable faces in Television having starred and co-starred in over twenty TV shows including (Nashville, Army Wives).

    Megan Jay Simrell - In here first starring role, Megan reminded the Director of a young and raw Jennifer Lawrence. Funny, scary, relentless and beautiful, this young woman is going places very soon. As she primarily focuses on acting, she is quickly climbing up the ladder in the world of modelling. House on Rodeo Gulch will be forever remembered as Megan's first starring role.

    Producer/Director/Writer - William Scherer
    Director of Photography - Chen Dubrin
    Original Score - Austin Lawrence
    International Distribution - D3Telefilm, Los Angeles, CA
    Website - HouseonRodeoGulch.com

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  • Andrew Buckner Aug 9, 2017

    By Andrew Buckner

    Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.

    Enjoyable performances enhance an already engaging mystery in writer-director William Scherer’s debut, House on Rodeo Gulch (2017). This central secret involves the strange goings-on in a home located in Santa Cruz, California. Such occurs after Denise Peterson (Chanel Ryan), and her strong-willed step-daughter, Shani (Megan Jay Simrell), take residence in the household. Soon afterward, the duo uncover that the building has attracted the attention of their neighbors. They are an obsessive Reverend, James (Jaye Wolfe), and his alcoholic assistant, Raul (Adrian Torres).

    Based on true events, this plot is a stalwart foundation for a thriller. Scherer’s Hitchcockian inspiration lends a classical, underlying elegance to the fabrication. Continually, the meticulous, slow-burn pace of the excursion beautifully builds upon this basis. The high-functioning presence of this trait is consistently noteworthy throughout the 95-minute production. This is a courtesy of Scherer, who deftly plays Junior, and his well-structured and intelligent scripting. The same can be said of his equally proficient guidance of the affair. These items combine spectacularly. This is to keep both audience devotion and the enigma of the tale ever-palpable. The comedic bits installed into the undertaking, though minimal, further season the exercise. Simultaneously, Scott toys with the potentially supernatural elements of the saga to admirable consequence. This is true in the early sections of the feature. Still, there is a succession of familiar beats unveiled throughout the endeavor. Such a quality keeps the project from becoming groundbreaking. This is most evident in the underwhelming finale.

    Regardless, the cinematography from Chen Dubrin, who also crafts a wonderful depiction of George in the picture, is stellar. His former-stated influence offers a gloomy, atmospheric veneer to the chronicle. Such comfortably suits the general feel of the configuration. Likewise, Scherer’s editing is proficient. The make-up, effects, costume design and sound contributions are also solid. Correspondingly, Austin Lawrence and Kevin MacLeod’s music is riveting.

    The relationship between Denise and Shani is also a smart focal point for Scherer’s work. These aforesaid protagonists are sufficiently developed. They offer an internal intensity to the piece that makes viewers care. It also heightens the credibility Scherer injects into the proceedings. The other individuals that populate Scherer’s account aren’t as fully formed. Still, the vagueness of these details immeasurably increases the overall mystery coursing throughout the effort.

    Such results in a splendidly honed and character-oriented psychological suspense yarn. The philosophical themes Scherer explores are bold. Moreover, the film comes off as authentic in nearly all departments. in turn, the arrangement builds a captivatingly believable tone. Best of all, Scherer culminates shock and surprise from sheer storytelling. Rarely does he resort to cheap jump scares or similar tactics of evoking on-screen fear. Scherer’s latest cinematic venture, which is full of many smoothly engineered narrative shifts, fluently allows bystanders to obtain the perspective of its chief figures. The undergoing just as readily establishes Scherer as an upcoming moviemaker to be watched. Because of these incredible attributes, the unique House on Rodeo Gulch is certainly worthwhile.

    (Unrated).

    Available on Vimeo and other digital platforms now.


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  • Bradley Gibson Sep 20, 2017

    First time director William Scherer’s House on Rodeo Gulch is a thriller full of fun if you don’t take it too seriously.

    Newlywed Denise (Chanel Ryan) has moved her teen step-daughter Shani (Megan Jay Simrell) to California against her will into a beautiful house in the woods. Shani’s father Bill is an Army ranger deployed to the Middle East. As they await his return to start their new life together strange events occur in the new house that seem to be somehow related to the unsettling and overzealous preacher who lives next door. Shani is a nascent bad-ass raised by her father to be tough as a Texas military brat. She does competitive target shooting and gives her guns affectionate nicknames. She is the proverbial loaded gun in act one, but wearing a bikini.

    “These are boogeymen specifically meant to scare white city folk.”

    The cinematography is lush and lovely. Greens of the forest pop and the shots are nicely done. F/X shots are fun, there’s a bit of Raimi-cam style drone footage to set the tone at the beginning. It’s an easy film to watch with the beautiful redwood trees framing the house.

    Except for Shani the characters are stiff cardboard cutouts, which works fine actually, this is Shani’s story. Remember, we’re not taking it too seriously, this is horror-movie ‘verse. The sinister preacher (Jaye Wolfe) is arch and pious beyond suspension of disbelief and his minion Raul (Adrian Torres) is a textbook offensive Latino stereotype as a drunk working for a drug cartel with sketchy English skills. These are boogeymen specifically meant to scare white city folk. I’m not criticizing those choices, they work. For my money, you can’t do creepy better than creepy clergy (and creepy kids, which this film lacks).

    “Megan Jay Simrell plays a perfect combination of surly teenager and steady voice in the crisis, not to mention her deadly aim with a .357 revolver.”

    There are one or two issues. One example is a continuity gaff where Denise calls her father “dad” in his first scene, but right after that she calls him “Bob.” It’s a jarring mistake that takes the viewer out of the moment. Denise’s dialog is mostly her whiny-shouting “Shani” building up from merely annoying to a nails-on-chalkboard shriek as things get intense. That’s less atmospheric than it is irritating. The movie’s pace is off, dragging at times. These are minor points, overall the film works surprisingly well, particularly given the budget and inexperience of the director.

    Everything comes together in the climax with Shani taking the lead rock steady and kicking ass. Megan Jay Simrell plays a perfect combination of surly teenager and steady voice in the crisis, not to mention her deadly aim with a .357 revolver.

    This is an ideal film for interactive give-advice-to-the-characters style watching with drinks and popcorn on a rainy Saturday.

    House on Rodeo Gulch Written and directed by: William Scherer. Starring: Megan Jay Simrell, Chanel Ryan, Jaye Wolfe.

    7 out of 10

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