Review by James Lindorf
Fortress Features and Saban Films have teamed up to bring you The Super, the latest thriller and first American film for award-winning German director Stephan Rick. Rick is joined by John J. McLaughlin one of the writers behind best picture nominee Black Swan. The Super follows former police officer, Phil Lodge (Chicago PD’s Patrick John Flueger), as he takes a job as a superintendent in a Manhattan apartment building. After the death of his wife, he needed a new career that guaranteed his daughters wouldn’t grow up without both parents. When his daughter’s friend goes missing, along with several other tenants, Phil believes a vicious serial killer is roaming the building and that his daughters may be among their targets. New to the building, Phil isn’t sure who he can trust when seemingly everyone around him has something to hide.
Most children of the 80s will always be Val Kilmer fans. We all know it has been several rough years in a row for the actor. He has had numerous lackluster performances where his trademark dedication seemed absent. That streak came to an end with The Super and his character, Walter. He fully embraced the unusual look and behavior of Walter, making him a character different from his most famous portrayals. Unfortunately, his level of dedication to Walter wasn’t matched by McLaughlin, who left him underdeveloped and not much more than a stock horror/thriller trope.
Mattea Conforti (Gotham), who plays Phil’s youngest daughter, Rose, is a standout for a child actress. She is very good at blank ominous stares and fearful acting, which is crucial, as most of the build-up centers on her and Phil’s need to protect her. Taylor Richardson (Rise) who plays the oldest daughter, Violet, does well, but she is not helped out by some terrible dubbing late in the film. In what was supposed to be her big moment, the audio was just distractingly poor, considering the quality present in the rest of the movie.
I think everyone from the cast to the director, to the cinematographer and the sound department showed up to make a great horror movie. The only problem is that McLaughlin only wrote an okay film. His world is populated by interesting characters, but they are all underdeveloped. The budget for the film was estimated at 2.3 million. I don’t know how much of that went to the actors, or if filming in Manhattan was more expensive than expected, but they needed more money to make The Super what it could have been. The movie hits the credits right around 83 minutes, which isn’t enough time. It required a full 90, or even 100, to flesh out all of the characters and build on the suspense. Another pacing issue could be that the first 13 minutes of the film are mostly unrelated to our protagonists. It is a very well-done short film, but it should have been integrated better, shortened or wholly removed for more time with Phil, his daughters and the rest of the building’s tenants.
There is a lot of good here. There is a pretty decent mystery that leaves you guessing about the film’s villain: is it just a man or something more supernatural? Combining the fact that the ending caught me by surprise, that there were good performances and it had a fun, but creepy, atmosphere makes The Super worth your time.