Director/Screenplay – LazRael Lison, Producers – Tatiana Chekova, Connie Dolph, LazRael Lison & Donna R. Tompkins, Photography – Richard Chamberlin, Visual Effects – Adam Bedford & Alim Ibrahim, Makeup Effects – Mandy Carpenter, Carole Soueidan & Coco Yuon, Production Design – Rebecca Scott. Production Company – Gjenius Productions
Darcy Fowers (Jennifer Campbell), Megan Lynam (Haili Greenmire), Ali Costello (Jessica Page), Cory Pearman (Adam O’Connor), Luke Boyd (Freddy Davis), Adam Cardon (Richie Arsenal), Richmond Arquette (Officer Kelly), Paolo Menacho (Kaitlin Vega), Jennifer Chan (Emma Wang), Evalee Gertz (Amber Charms), Tom Wright (Lieutenant Alex Neal), Leslie Easterbrook (Megan Charms), Clement Blake (Homeless Man), Shary Nassimi (Stanley Ipisani)
Jennifer Campbell signs into a journalism course at Ashton University. There she determines to conduct an investigation into the murders that took place at Town Creek Apartments in 2001. She pieces together the story of what happened after the apartments were reopened following a tragedy in the past. A group of students and freshmen gathered to party in the apartment of Haili Greenmire and her boyfriend Richie. Throughout the course of the evening, various of the group were killed in the hallways. As they became aware, there was something supernatural haunting the building related to a murder that happened back in 1972.
Rift was the second film from African-American director/producer LazRael Lison. Lison first made the non-genre Kontrast (2009), settled into horror here and has remained there with his two successive films as director, Private Number (2014) and Halloweed (2016).
I am not sure what I expected when I sat down to watch Rift – the title suggests a science-fiction film, while one could not help but think of the cheap Spanish The Rift (1990). Whatever the case, what we get is one of the most pitifully made ghost stories that has ever been committed to film. It has a painfulness and amateurism that far and away exceeds almost any other effort in the field. The acting is incredibly bad, none the worse than the actress playing Darcy Fowers’ sister in the opening scenes. All of the early scenes consist of actors playing out stilted dialogue that feels like somebody’s idea of what social interaction should be like without having actually studied people much.
Rift seeks to enter the genre of the haunted house/ghost story. This is something that is always heavily dependent on mood and atmosphere. The problem is that LazRael Lison and his cinematographer have chosen to do so with frequently natural or room lighting. The substantial downside of this is that on the video screen what is happening is often unable to be distinguished amid the murk of the surrounding darkness. Not to mention that the film is so cheaply made that it eschews anything in the way of visual and makeup effects. The most laughable sequence is one where Lison tries to convince us that Luke Boyd is being killed by a window that is trying to squeeze him to death as he climbs through.
The film reaches an end explanation where one frankly had a great deal of difficulty working out what happened between the various ghosts, sisters, ritual sacrifices and necrophile morgue attendants. Both the opening and closing credits make the claim that what has happened is based on a true story, although given the absurd complicity of events and the lack of details given as to where and when this supposedly happened, these are claims that one has to place in highly sceptical quote marks.