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Review: Hand of Glory (2012)

Directed by: Stuart Wahlin
Written by: Stuart Wahlin
Genre: Drama / Horror / Thriller
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: March 25th, 2012.
Starring: Heather Dorff. Darren Marlar. Justin R. Romine. Michael Schmid. Brian Kramer. Joe DeBartolo.

Plot: Lonely delivery falls uses a mystical relic known as the Hand of Glory to win the affections of the woman he loves and make all his dreams possible, but soon discovers everything comes with a price.

Synopsis: Lonely delivery man Joseph falls in love with an alcoholic prostitute named Karen, who frequents one of the stops along his route. Though they soon become friends, Joseph is unable to figure out what makes the very-guarded Karen tick. While Karen drowns the sorrows of her mysterious past, keeping him at bay, Joseph remains committed to winning her affection, resorting to extreme measures in his search for the key to her heart. Embarking on a dark journey with a mystical relic -a ‘Hand of Glory,’ whose legend purports the ability to unlock any door- Joseph soon discovers that such feats come at a dire price.

Review: 7/10

My Thoughts: Love is a tricky thing. It can be a powerful driving force that lifts you up high, or derails you off the tracks. Love makes you do things, terrible things you never imagine was possible. But as the old saying goes; the heart wants what it wants, and it’ll do anything to get it. In his directorial debut, actor, writer and director Stuart Wahlin brings us HAND OF GLORY, a dark drama about Joseph, a lonely delivery man (Marlar) who falls for an alcoholic prostitute named Karen (Dorff). Karen has made it crystal clear that a romantic relationship will never be in the cards. However, Joseph refuses to give up on getting the girl of his desire and will stop at nothing until he wins her affection. Sounds innocent and a little sweet right? Well you’d be right if Joseph didn’t turn to dabbling in the use of a mystical relic known as the Hand of Glory, which is clouded by strange and dark properties that come with most unfortunate price.

I had no idea what I would be walking into prior to viewing hand of glory other than the fact it’s filmmaker managed to lock down the details about the film tighter than Fort Knox. So with that in mind, I sat down to watch this film with an open mind and absolutely no expectations. The only thing I could do at this point was prepare, prepare for the unknown and more importantly, prepare for the worst possible scenario… that it would turn out to be a big disappointment. Fortunately the film did not turn out as the disappointment I feared, but instead a rather interesting look into the darkness that dwells within. The plot itself was quite intriguing; I was very pleased at the notion that Wahlin was able to keep me, as a viewer, questioning what would happen next, believe me that is indeed a rarity for someone like me. Though the film did suffer from some obvious flaws, like sound issues and noticeable dubbing (which I have no problem tolerating.) However, there are a few instances in the film where it became quite noticeable which I could not ignore, however that I can somewhat forgive and let live this particular flaw, seeing that many films both indie and mainstream seem to suffer from these types of common hiccups from time to time.

As for “gore” value, for a film that uses a severed hand on its poster, the movie wasn’t as gory as I originally thought it would be. Was it eerie? Yes! Was it dark and somewhat disturbing? You bet your apple bottom it was! But overly bloody it was not. Now with that being said, one of the qualities I enjoyed a great deal about hand of glory was the scenery and setting; from Karen’s apartment to the bar beneath it, the elements of each location in the film were well played to the elements that brought on an atmospheric tone for the cinematography. From Joseph creeping through the keyhole, to a scene in which I cannot detail without giving away major spoilers, everything about it had a shade of gloom and gray to it, and it worked so perfectly, but more importantly, the most memorable aspect about Hand of Glory was the fact it managed to throw in a twist towards the end that I did not see coming, and whether this revelation was a positive or a negative, the fact I did not see this twist coming from a mile away was indeed enjoying.

As for the acting: this is where the film really shines in glory! Heather Dorff’s performance as Karen was breath taking to say the least; her character was literally oozing with such raw emotion that felt natural and organic for the setting, much like her performance in “What They Say.” You felt Heather’s pain and hurt suffice from deep down inside and understood why she is the way she is. Darren Marlar did a fantastic job in the role of Joseph. He pulled off the lonely obsessive delivery man without a hitch, not to mention very believable as a total creeper. Justin R. Romine delivered a fine performance as the ex pimp, in my opinion, off-screen Justin naturally doesn’t come off as the intimidating type, however this was not the case in hand of glory as he pulled it off quite well which was both enjoying and surprising to see him as the violent aggressor type. Also I want to point out that Michael Schmid, Brian Kramer, Joe DeBartolo, Richard Bunch and the rest of the supporting cast did fairly good as well.

Final Say: Hand of Glory was quite the little film; though it had its flaws, it still managed to do what it intended to do. I recommend it!

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