Mixing teen romance, occult terror, anime violence, mid nineties nu-goth moping and one ghostly revenge tale, this action horror from writer/director Brian Metcalf was doomed from its conception. Too bleak for Twihard fantasy buffs and too sissy for hardened genre fanatics, the unsavoury convergence of such disparate elements creates something that is altogether confused and boring.
After a somewhat unjustified altercation with her long suffering mother, Bella Swan wannabe, Sarah (7th Heaven’s Hallee Hirsh) storms out of her home. Strolling through the neighbourhood and joined by her equally bratty best friend, she is attacked by a horde of flesh eating, comfortably attired locals. The friend is brutally murdered but Sarah is saved by pubescent samurai, Jacob (Jordan Matthews). He swears himself her protector and they away to fight ill-tempered necromancer Mathias (Brad Douriff) and his casually dressed army of the undead.
But, giving the through plot a foundation for which to stand, there is a much more interesting story frequently cut to in flashback. Sarah’s long dead uncle, Michael (Thomas Ian Nicholas), has moved into a new house after the death of his wife and child. Sent there by his publisher in order to write a new novel, he quickly forgets his work commitments when he discovers a magical book hidden deep within the attic.
He becomes obsessed with it and, sure enough, begins wielding its many incantations for personal jollies. However, the book belongs to the immortal Mathias and things take a turn for the worse.
These sections start off slow but quickly become the lynchpin that holds everything together. Not only are they essential to the plot, they are the only thing that keeps you watching. Though this isn’t down to the fact that they are stellar entertainment (despite Nicholas’ best attempts to keep you hooked); it is that they are far less annoying than anything featuring the younger characters.
Sarah is consistently aggravating due to her incessant desire to know ‘what the hell is going on!?’ and Jacob looks like Brandon Lee’s sidekick and possess’ about as much personality as a Weight Watchers ready meal. And no amount of hyper violence or effects laden fight sequences (poorly handled as they are) can hide the fact that these two sprogs have absolutely no chemistry to speak off.
It’s strange that a vague love story is bled from Sarah and Jacob’s relationship. They are a completely unnatural pairing and the whole affair stinks of a desire to appeal to a wider target market than perhaps a pure horror would allow. However, their romance fails to convince so completely that it’s hard to see how anybody could find it appealing, especially those already contented by the suspect charms of Stephanie Meyer’s vamperotica franchise, That-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
In the final few moments before the credits roll, Jacob confronts Mathias one last time. There is a brief interchange of words that cause Jacob to scream the title of the film. It’s a silly response and completely forced, as if Metcalf decided that the name sounded cool but couldn’t find a legitimate way to fit it into his story. This is, in fact, the entire problem with Fading of the Cries; it may look good on paper but makes no sense in actuality.