“Before men there were the Elder Gods. Using magic mankind pushed them into another dimension locking them away for eternity. But they found a way back.”
With these epic words Black Site opened its FrightFest screening and instantly hooked me in. Luckily the rest of the film is just as imaginative as the crazy set up which plays out like Lovecraft meets Men in Black via John Carpenter and yes it is just as entertaining as that sounds.
Set on one of three black sites owned by Artemis and set up to capture and deport the Elder God’s we meet our troubled heroine Ren (Samantha Schnitzler) who has worked for the secret military agency after her parents were killed by one of them back in 1997.
Having been up and running since 1926 Artemis uses magic and technology in its dangerous humanity saving mission however as the number of evil idols has dwindled so has their budget. This leaves only a skeleton crew on call when they receive word that the immortal Erebus is arriving trapped in the body of a murderer (played by Kris Johnson) ready to be sent back into the void he came from.
This Elder God it seems is unlike any other especially to Ren as this is the deity that murdered her mother and father and has been causing her disturbing visions ever since. Driven by vengeance but desperate to do her job and take the unwitting deportation officer Sam (Mike Beckingham) to dispatch of this otherworldly menace via supernatural incantations, Ren faces an immense internal struggle alongside the actual battle that rages all around her as the facility is assaulted by unknown insane assailants.
Written and directed by Tom Paton Black Site is his third feature after the excellent Redwood and Pandorica blending science fiction, horror, action and fantasy into a brilliant genre movie packed with thrills and chills.
Wearing some of its influences on its sleeve such as the 80’s synth infused soundtrack which screams John Carpenter, elements of The Raid, Resident Evil and several other movies can be seen in Black Site as well, not that this is a bad thing. What sets it apart is the superb central idea and the normalization of such an insane concept that in other lesser films would have come across as laughable.
Helping this believability is the excellent design and every element of Artemis from the cavernous facility to the strange magically marked sets to the warning posters and uniforms to the cheesy introduction video Ren plays to the new recruits explaining the organization and its history has been thoroughly well thought of and brought to life.
Building well with some great pacing Paton is clever enough not to wait too long before bringing in the action and the second half of the film sees Ren and Sam fight their way through a cacophony of crazed cult members who have broken into the building to free Erebus. A nice touch is that magic has rendered all combustion inactive meaning no guns work so the fights are strictly hand to hand, or hand to sword, and all very well-choreographed.
The cast are solid but special mention should go to Kris Johnson as the vessel and mouth piece of the entrapped Elder God who exudes menace and superiority even though he is confined by runes and magic symbols by the human soldiers he sees as little more than insignificant insects.
Showing that a great concept is more important than a huge budget and a star studded cast Black Site is a superb Sci-Horror with tons of action thrown in proving Paton is a creative force to be reckoned with. Who knows what his wicked warped wonderful mind will create next.