Cassandra (1986)
By: Michelle R. on January 19, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 2.0. 89 minutes
The Movie
Director: Colin Eggleston
Starring: Tessa Humphries, Briony Behets, Lee James, Natalie McCurry Screenplay: Colin Eggleston, Chris Fitchett, John Ruane
Music: Trevor Lucas, Ian Mason
Tagline: Omens of death. Cassandra has the power to see them... but not to stop them!
Country: Australia
Cassandra Roberts (Tessa Humphries), the sheltered, pampered daughter of successful photographer Stephen (Shane Briant) and fashion designer Helen (Briony Behets), is haunted by disturbing nightmares. She is particularly unsettled by a recurring dream involving a woman's suicide at the farmhouse she lived in as a child. Convinced the dream is a memory recollection from her past, Cassandra asks her parents if any such incident occurred, but they suspiciously convince her that it's all in her mind. It soon transpires the Roberts' have more than a few skeletons hidden away from their respectable middle-class exterior – Stephen is having a long-term affair with one of his models, Libby, and Helen is constantly nervous and on edge…but surprisingly nonchalant when Cassandra informs her of her husband's affair. Cassandra continues to be plagued by violent, bloody visions, and is horrified when she discovers that her nightmares are in fact reality, upon psychically 'seeing' the brutal stabbing murder of Libby at her father's beach house. Discovering an old photograph of the woman who committed suicide in her original dream, Cassandra presses Stephen and Helen for the photo's origins, in the process opening a Pandora's Box that shatters her comfortable existence. They reluctantly confirm the woman was her real mother, and that they are brother and sister who took Cassandra in after the grisly incident to 'protect' her. Meanwhile the body count is rising and the police are baffled as to who the killer could be – Cassandra's long-lost brother, who was put into care shortly after their mother's suicide but recently released? Her concerned friend Robert? Stephen's sleazy assistant Graham, who's accused of rape? Or is it Cassandra herself?

Colin Eggleston, who had previously directed the acclaimed Oz horror classic Long Weekend, made a rather lacklustre return to the genre with Cassandra, which had been originally intended for a theatrical release but ended up being unceremoniously dumped on the straight to video market instead. The movie is marred by a number of flaws – it doesn't quite succeed in attempting to set itself apart from the usual stalk-and-slash formula, as way too many muddling 'shock' plot twists are introduced. Aside from some decent acting from former Hammer Horror leading man Briant and Eggleston regular Behets, the rest of the cast is bland and soap-opera wooden, including Tessa Humphries (daughter of Barry 'Dame Edna' Humphries) as Cassandra, who turns in a dull, undistinguished performance.

Cassandra does have its inspired moments – the prolonged stalking sequences are genuinely suspenseful and showcase some bravura POV camerawork worthy of Carpenter or Argento, and some excellent cinematography further adds a professional sheen to the production, utilising a smoke machine, blue tinted lighting and Eggleston's trademark dissolve fades to moody effect. Unfortunately budget constraints, sluggish pacing and an overly talky script result in a watchable, but overall forgettable feature.
Cassandra is presented in a well-preserved though non-anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. There is some slight minimal grain which does not distract from the picture's overall above-average quality.
The Dolby 2.0 track is serviceable with sound and music (a minimal but effective soundtrack) at appropriate levels.
Extra Features
Original trailer and previews for several other of Umbrella's Australian horror releases – The Chain Reaction, Thirst, Long Weekend and Roadgames.
The Verdict
An unexceptional entry into the 'psychic link' subgenre, Cassandra has a few merits, namely a handful of tense scenes and prowling killer's eye camerawork, but overall a disappointing effort from a talented director which lacks the offbeat, eerie atmosphere of its predecessor, Long Weekend.
Movie Score
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