When a group of friends gathers at a mutual friend’s house to celebrate her graduation from law school and upcoming bar exam, none of them could have anticipated or predicted what would happen to them that night. Some of them are frustrated that their old friend has become a Christian and refuses to get high with them, so they decide to have their own ‘party’ secretly in her house. However, what they do not know is that supernatural forces beyond their control are at work and they will be taken for the psychological ride of their lives—whether they want to or not.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
Much like The Basement, Scattered begins with very poor production quality, including too many tight, awkward camera angles and too much shaking camera work for dramatic effects. Though video and audio quality are relatively stable throughout, there is really only one set in this film with no outside locations except for within flashbacks. Props are mostly fine throughout, but there are some cheesy ‘horror’ special effects that really need to be eliminated. There are also too many choppy cuts and transitions, as well as a lot of disorienting editing to try to add to the psychological effect. However, relatively halfway through the film, a switch if flipped and it suddenly becomes a respectable production. Thus, it ends up average in the end, but that is not all that changes throughout this film.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
Scattered begins as annoying as The Basement was throughout, including a lot of stupid and mindless dialogue that makes non-Christian characters very bad and Christian characters too good. It’s also hard to keep up with all the characters at first as the first half of the plot really has no coherent thought or direction. However, it is clear that the first half is trying to kick the can down the road to get to the big twist this movie hinges upon, however, this is not done in a very good fashion. The tone and premise of the first half is very strange and off-putting, including ridiculous horror elements. Though this part drags on way too long due to wasted, pointless conversations and empty scenes, the middle of the story totally flips the script and suddenly becomes the best Christian horror plot written to date. Flashbacks are used very effectively to suddenly build the characters into real people and the ‘horror’ elements become justified and actually realistic. The plot is not afraid to take on realistic gritty issues that people endure and suddenly makes its characters more gray rather than so black and white. Thus, the ending is interesting and actually makes one want to see more.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
Like the other elements of the film, the acting is quite bad at first. The makeup is a standout problem in the beginning. A lot of the cast members are trying way too hard at first, including forceful line delivery and wooden emotions. However, even these issues demonstrate improvement as things completely change in the middle of the film. The difference between the two halves is so stark that one has to wonder if the creative team completely changed in the middle.
Scattered bears a strong resemblance to Pendragon as a rare film that changes and improves throughout and is actually sustained by a strong and unique plot idea. Yet the question still remains: since they showed they could improve, would it really have been that hard to go back and fix the beginning? Sure, it would have taken more time, but think of the impact this film could have had. This is likely the only good Christian horror concept on the market right now, and it most definitely needs to be reused in some way. After the debacle of The Basement and the first half of this film, it seemed like JCL Production was just another failed venture, but with the total turnaround in Scattered, they have demonstrated that there is more to them than meets the eye. Thus, it will be very interesting see what they can come up with next.
Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points