Director/Screenplay – Sixto Melendez, Producers – John Fonseca, Javier Gomez, Wes Martinez & Sixto Melendez, Photography – Javier Gomez, Music – Jay Martin, Special Effects – David Weidman, Makeup Effects – Jessica Fierro & David Weidman. Production Company – Rock Soup Films.
Wes Martinez (Eddie Marquez), Monica Engesser (Amy Saunders), Chris Cox (Mark Gains), Carrie Fee (Astrid Flowers), Mike Watkiss (Gabriel Cross), Tedd Quinn (Detective Dave McConnell), Desmond Miles Baker (Detective Brett Warner), Hunter Marie Meeks (Rebecca Green), Kimber Leigh (Rachel Green), Kip McLaren Culver (Vincent Young), Rebekah Kennedy (Young Amy), Thomas M. Thompson (Attorney)
Eddie Marquez inherits a house in his aunt’s will and moves in. He is suffering mental health issues following a divorce from his wife. These include post-traumatic flashbacks to the time when he was a child and his mother shot the rest of his family and left him for dead with two bullets in his chest. In the group therapy he attends, he meets Amy Saunders and she invites him back for the night. When he finds that she lives homeless in an abandoned warehouse, he invites her to move in with him. Soon after, he starts to find disturbing things about Amy – that she may be responsible for the slaughter of dogs and neighbouring children and that she might now have moved on to targeting his friends.
The Conduit was a directorial debut for Sixto Melendez, a filmmaker based in Phoenix who had previously made three short films.
The Conduit proves somewhat frustrating – Sixto Melendez does not do much to queue us into what sort of horror element we are dealing with for some way into the film. On the other hand, I gradually began to warm to Melendez’s slow pace. He is a director attuned to character nuance. In this regard, is aided greatly by his lead actor Wes Martinez who is quiet and soft-spoken.
Sixto Melendez takes a long time to give us any idea where the film is going or to even arrive at horror territory. Certainly, there are the unnerving scenes where Wes Martinez wakes up in bed covered in blood and finds a dead dog in the backyard followed by a neighbour calling for it. Or as police come searching for a missing girl whom Martinez had met earlier and he finds her journal half-hidden under the bedclothes. In the role of the mystery woman, Monica Engesser gives a fascinatingly mysterious and ambiguous performance that holds attention.
On the other hand, there is the frustration of Sixto Melendez never entirely clueing us in as to what is going on. I kept thinking that maybe Monica Engesser was a vampire for much of the film, for instance. The film reaches a different explanation at the end, although the final ending the film arrives at leaves you in confusion [PLOT SPOILERS] where it seems to suggest that it is Wes Martinez who is the killer as opposed to Monica Engesser.