Blu-ray Review – Let’s Slay Together: TOK (Reel Gore Releasing)

It’s been a long journey for TOK from director Matt Farnsworth. Originally self distributed, the film has an incredible following for an indie feature and just needed the right push from a serious distributor, enter Reel Gore Releasing.

There are a lot of horror films produced every year. The independent horror film is more often than not, just plain bad. Sometimes because they are shot or acted badly, but what is more often the case, they are played tongue in cheek. Imagine my pleasure when I came across the film that’s making waves all over the world; TOK. Written and Directed by Matt Farnsworth, TOK is a Tour de Force on your senses which will stay with you long after the film is over.

TOK is the story of Audrey Miller, a young attractive woman working at her Alma Mater, a local Catholic School. There are often whispers behind her back, maybe because of her sex very non conservative clothes, but more likely, due to her rumored past. It seems that the school has a boogieman legend, the legend of Marcus Miller, TOK, Audrey’s brother. One evening after a school function, Audrey reprimands three of her students for putting a creepy mask in her locker, and then settles in for a quick shower. Through flashbacks, we learn that her brother and she were orphaned during a break-in, leaving them raised in the care of the Catholic institution that she now works. While she was quickly adopted, Marcus was harshly treated and left to rot like a dirty secret. Not to say that Marcus is innocent, he is far from it, but tonight everyone will learn that Marcus Miller is indeed very very real.

This film is relentless. A film not just about violence, but violent intent, and unlike most of its kin, it has a psychological core that though not blatant, begs to ask questions about nature vs nurture, the effects of abandonment (both real and imagined), and the lasting effects of corporal punishment. Heavy stuff for a film like this, but it’s apparent from the opening aerial shots, that Matt Farnsworth was aiming for something higher (no pun intended). The story itself is simple, but told in a complex way, allowing you to experience tok’s inner childhood turmoil and outer, long gestating rage.

The main key to the film’s success lies in Diane Foster’s performance as Audrey. With Marcus Miller a silent and seemingly unstoppable force for much of the film, it’s up to her to carry it, and she does so with equal parts strength and fear. But what about David Backus as TOKr? Let me tell you, people sometimes think that there’s nothing to being a killer in a mask, but anyone who has ever been a fan of Michael Meyers or Jason Vorhees will beg to differ. There has to be a performance there, one based not only on physicality, but on psychology as well. David brings this in spades. He moves with menace and purpose, but in a very natural way. This dude’s a rock star!

Another key ingredient to this sinful stew is the soundtrack. Filled with the heaviest of metal, the underlying tracks by bands such as Born of Osiris, First Blood, and Asking  Alexandria, enhance the experience as well as acting as a window into the dehumanized psyche of Marcus Miller. The film is in some ways a kin to the Hardcore Metal themed horror and imagery of Namco’s video game classic, Splatterhouse. Though only having base elements in common, TOK film and the Splatterhouse game complement each other nicely.

The final ingredient is the team of Director/Cinematographer Matt Farnsworth and Producer/star Diane Foster, who set themselves apart by delivering a film that is shot every bit as professional as any big budget Hollywood film. Matt Farnsworth took this film seriously and realizes what so few young film makers do. Your film is your only calling card that matters, if you’re gonna do it, make it count. Take it seriously and present it professionally. People will take notice.

The horror genre is filled with conventions that we are all aware of. So it’s not always the story, but the story telling that matters. Some would say this is the harder of the two.  And in this case, the story is told with an eye for style and shock, and more importantly, it pulls it off.

As usual with their releases, TOK gets all the love with a beautiful transfer and solid sound. Also setting this release apart from the original is an exclusive set diary.  Included with the set is an official trading card featuring Diane Foster as Audrey to round out the set. A must have for fans of TOK,

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