Director/Screenplay/Visual Effects Supervisor – Brian A. Metcalf, Producers – Karoline Kautz, Brian A. Metcalf & Thomas Ian Nicholas, Photography – Brad Rushing, Music – Nathaniel Levisay, Makeup Effects – Lino Stavole & The Creature Company. Production Company – Ratio Pictures/Fading of the Cries LLC
Hallee Hirsh (Sarah), Jordan Matthews (Jacob), Brad Dourif (Mathias), Thomas Ian Nicholas (Michael), Elaine Hendrix (Maggie), MacKenzie Rosman (Jill), Jessica Morris (Malyhne), Lateef Crowder (Sylathus), Paul McCarthy-Boyington (Drunk), Julia Whelan (Emily)
Sarah defies her mother and goes out drinking with her best friend Emily. Abruptly, they are attacked by zombies and Emily killed. Sarah is saved by the staff-wielding Jacob who hurries her away as they are pursued by hordes of zombies. Sarah learns that the pendant left by her uncle Michael is wanted by the necromancer Mathias who needs it to raise his wife from the dead. Back home, Sarah’s mother and sister are besieged by zombies. In the course of their flight, Sarah learns how Michael moved into Eckling Manor several years ago where he found Mathias’s book of spells and became obsessed with black magic, eventually conjuring forth demons. Before he was claimed by Mathias, Michael left the young Sarah with the pendant. Mathias now conjures all dark forces at his disposal to make Sarah willingly surrender the pendant to him.
Fading of the Cries is a debut feature from Brian A. Metcalf. (For some reason, the IMDB insists that the director is Steven Maguire but it is the name of Metcalf on the version of the film that one saw and the dvd cover). Metcalf had previously worked in visual effects and made his directorial debut with 24: The DVD Board Game (2006). In most cases, Fading of the Cries would be a direct-to-dvd release but it somehow managed to receive theatrical screenings in several US cities.
Even from the title, you can tell that Fading of the Cries is a horror film with pretensions. It suffers from the typical over-inflated belief of an ingenue effort that thinks it has greater self-importance than being just a B-budget horror film. Undeniably, Brian A. Metcalf creates some imaginative effects – people being pursued by hordes of zombies with black pits where their eyes should be; a venture down into the undercity beneath the town, which seems to be filled with miles of pillars and vaulted ceilings like a church. Metcalf’s background as a visual effects artists serves him well and he delivers some nifty effects – the zombie hordes are all created digitally, giant moons filling the sky, images of people dissolving into flocks of birds or dust blown away by the wind. (One of the odder things about Fading of the Cries is the pure surrealism of the set-up – how a mere descent down a ladder leads to a vast vaulted arena that stretches as far as the eye can see and far higher than the distance they travelled in coming down yet we are asked to believe that nobody digging foundations for a building in the town ever managed to uncover such a maze. Indeed, we never meet any other townspeople other than Hallee Hirsh’s family and friend, yet the streets are filled with zombies).
Eventually the novelty of Brian Metcalf’s effects weary through repetition. You can only see so many shots of digital flocks of birds flying about. In the end, these prove to be the only thing that Fading of the Cries has going for it. They bolster up a tired plot about the search for an occult McGuffin – a pendant that only seems to have importance because the script has arbitrarily deemed it does. The evil sorcerer and his motivations are stock cutouts. The heroine’s destiny is entirely boiler plate – one that oddly never seems to be fulfilled. The scenes of the uncle (Thomas Ian Nicholas) raising occult forces are wholly generic. There are some passably effective demon creatures that look like B-budget variations on Clive Barker creations. Mostly, the film’s thin and entirely by the numbers plot causes the show to start feeling that you have seen its every move a dozen times elsewhere well before we get to the end.
The young hero played by Jordan Matthews seems to be cast with an eye towards channelling a mix of Keanu Reeves in Constantine (2005) and Brandon Lee in The Crow (1994). Unfortunately, Matthews has watery looks and only comes out as a weedy emo teen. Instead of cool action poses, he waves around something that looks like a staff using some awkward and decidedly non-martial moves. Amid his arsenal of effects, Brian A. Metcalf seems to lack the ability to do much to enervate these action scenes. Heroine Hallee Hirsh is reasonably convincing. Brad Dourif is the headline name and plays with a theatrical hamminess – at least he is a seasoned pro at this type of film and carries off an otherwise entirely one-dimensional role.
Brian A. Metcalf next went on to make the horror films The Lost Tree (2016) and Living Amongst Us (2018).