Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to both Producer, Staci Layne Wilson and Writer/Director, Mark Allen Michaels for allowing me access to an online screener of the Horror film, “The Fiance”. The Fiance deals with the dynamics of a relationship between bride to be, Sara (played by the stunning Carrie Keagan) and her beau, Michael (Dallas Valdez) amidst a series of Bigfoot sightings that soon turn into attacks. The film also stars Curt Lambert, Larz Yungbliut and Douglas Tait. I don’t get that many opportunities to review this particular type of creature feature and even when I do, they’ve usually been shot on a shoestring budget. Now that’s not to say The Fiance isn’t an indie, do it yourself type of film because it is, however, there appears to be a little more money behind this one and that’s highlighted by solid creature effects and realistic practical blood and gore effects.
Well, need I state the obvious but The Fiance is clearly all about Carrie Keagan and a mysterious Bigfoot, What more could you want? (haha). Most of you would have seen Keagan on your TV screens at one point or another over the last few years. The down to earth, Carrie, is mostly known for her work as a host on “Up Close with Carrie Keagan” and most notably, “Big Morning Buzz Live” on VH1. She’s been involved in a slew of Mark Burnett productions and had cameos in numerous TV shows and Movies, such as “Reno 911”, “Superbad” and “The Hangover”. Known for her bubbly personality, flirtatious nature and openness to tap into any an all things taboo, Carrie is a breath of fresh air in what’s a stuffy, modern Hollywood. Not only is she a stunning blonde bombshell, she’s also very funny, as I’m sure is evident in her upcoming book titled, “Everybody Curses, I Swear!”. Anyways… enough about Carrie and onto the film. I really enjoyed the style of cinematography in this one. The framing techniques are consistent and there’s some diverse and effective shot choices. A couple of distinct tracking shots and close-ups, along with a gorgeous shot looking out from the entry of a tunnel, were among the best. There’s a brief sequence of Michael driving through the hills and that was shot really well too. The audio track is strong and the foley clear, predominately underlined by thunderous sounds of the Bigfoot. A majority of the film takes place in a cabin but I thought back lighting it, utilizing tinges of yellow and red, helped to create the atmosphere.
The soundtrack and score in The Fiance are also handled well. The film opens mostly with piano and violin, there’s a central theme to the opening act but then the tempo changes up, introducing elements of Jazz and Blues, becoming more of an homage to film noir of the 20’s and 30’s than what you’d typically here in a creature feature style film. It’s safe to say that Carrie Keagan is probably the selling point here. Due to creative decisions in the writing (and the twist), she’s forced to come at the role of Sara from a couple of different angles and she manages to handle it like a pro. There can be no doubting that she’s gorgeous but looks can only take you so far and I’m glad to say that’s not all Keagan has in her trick bag. Valdez’s portrayal of Michael is an interesting one and although not all of it works, his dialogue delivery and general screen presence were solid. The other characters only have a small amount of screen time but do the best with what they’re given. My favourite aspect of The Fiance is certainly its practical blood and gore effects, something that’s often scarce in these kinds of films. For one reason or another (usually budget related), the effects are just implied and or cut away from altogether. The battle between Michael, Bigfoot and Co, offers up plenty of the red stuff as well as some authentic toe and finger prosthetics. Naturally, with limited locations and a meager cast, The Fiance doesn’t boast a large body count but does make up for it somewhat with a really good costume and makeup design for the creature itself.
The only technical issue in The Fiance is some background, traffic noise that overpowers Jerry’s dialogue during a phone conversation with Michael. There also seems like quite a bit of ADR (additional dialogue recording) utilized in scenes involving Sara’s father and his henchmen. I didn’t like several of the secondary characters, namely the so-called expert on Bigfoot (I don’t remember his name) and the duo of police officers. In one scene, the expert is being filmed by a camera man from a particular reality style show. He gives his best impersonation of a Bigfoot, a Yeti and a Sasquatch, it’s quite stupid and pretty cringe worthy given that this is ultimately a serious film (even with it being about a Bigfoot). The only skerrick of humor in the scene comes by accident, when the man’s makeup artist can be seen breaking character and laughing at these impressions. The cops annoyed me with their adolescent behavior and it’s just not something I find funny, unless of course I’ve stumbled into a “Super Troopers” type of film (and this is anything but). The details behind how or why a Bigfoot would bite someone, were never really discovered. Now in fairness, I haven’t seen that many Bigfoot films but the ones I have seen, characters tend to be mauled to death and not bitten and or changed into a creature.
If I’m honest, I think Dallas Valdez was perhaps a little miscast in the role of Michael, love interest for Keagan’s, Sara. Valdez appears to be in his late 40’s early 50’s (though it’s not listed) and Carrie is only in her mid 30’s. That’s not to say Carrie doesn’t like older men, or to be more precise her character doesn’t like older men but all the same, I didn’t exactly buy them as a couple. The Fiance suffers from the usual plausibility stretches as far as its characters decision-making goes, particularly in the case of Michael. It takes him being set upon and then attacked three or four times before he realizes the situation is grievous enough to warrant a weapon to defend himself with. Once he finally does decide to arm up, he trades in said weapon just as quick as he gets it, instead opting for a mobile phone to call for help (fair enough I suppose) but I’d probably still keep the weapon close by. I’ll assume Valdez is only playing the character how it was written but his nonchalant attitude and underplayed reactions towards both being attacked, as well as potentially losing appendages, make it a little hard to swallow the character. There never seems like any real sense of emergency about the situation he’s in and that’s simply not a realistic approach to a format like that. The flashbacks are informative enough but not always presented at the right time and the second half of the film gets a bit tedious.
The Fiance is just Mark Allen Michaels second feature film and it just so happens to be his writing debut. I hadn’t heard anything on this one prior to watching it, so there were no preconceived notions about what I might have been in for. As I said, they had me at Carrie Keagan and Bigfoot (haha). The cinematography and diverse shot choices raise this ones production value and the audio levels are good, even if it’s with help from additional recordings. The score is a unique blend of old school Blues and Jazz, as well as modern Piano and violin and I dug the way everything was back-lit. I thought Carrie looked great and her performance was better than expected. My favourite part of the film was certainly the practical blood and gore effects, along with the Bigfoot makeup. The film lacks a full commitment tone-wise and a number of the secondary characters only managed to rub me the wrong way. A lot of the specifics in relation to Michael’s reactions, just weren’t credible and the film does lose a bit of momentum at times. All in all, The Fiance was a decent way to kill 79 minutes and a reasonable addition to the creature feature, sub-genre. Seeing as though this is Mark’s first writing credit, I’m sure there will be plenty of improvement to come in the future. If you’re interested, the film is currently playing on various media platforms, Amazon Prime, iTunes and VOD.
My rating for “The Fiance” is 5/10