Director: Roger Ingraham
Screenwriters: Roger Ingraham, Lori Isbell
Producers: Roger Ingraham, Jeff Um
Cast: Brian Greer, Sarah Ingraham, Ginny Fitzpatrick
Sony HD Cam
U.S.A., 2005, 77 min.
*Small-town life can be deceiving. Behind the innocent, dependable routines often lie a buried undercurrent of restlessness and a desire for change, especially in the young. It's easy to wish that something would shake things up and relieve the tedium of working dead-end jobs in a dead-end world surrounded by dead-end people. It's easy, that is, until shadows of the glossy-eyed dark side appear to make it true, and shake your sleepy little world to the core when a creature of the night emerges thirsty for local blood. Welcome to Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Population...dropping.
Director Roger Ingraham has proven much with Moonshine, his formidably stylish thriller and impressive debut film. Not only that a 20 year-old and his enthusiastic hometown could create it for less than $9,200 (digerati, unite!), but also that he and his cowriter, Lori Isbell, were capable of exploring and expanding on one of the most exploited of all genres: the vampire film. Their tense script is wonderfully performed by local actors, who add realistic grit to the intimate and accomplished cinematography. Kinetic camerawork jolts and pushes perspectives through light and shadows in an emotive expression of the story's growing tensions, keeping the audience as involved and disoriented as the horrified characters themselves.
*Summary by Joseph Beyer, SUNDANCE Film Programmer
The real accomplishment of this film is that it was made at all. The fact that the film itself is slow, a bit boring, and nonsensical is really beside the point. The director, Roger Ingraham managed to make this film, a full-length feature horror film, for about $9,000. His entire town in Connecticut offered funding, locations, actors, and crewmembers. It's an inspiring story of how a town came together to support this young filmmaker. It looked like every member of the director's town came out to Park City for the Sundance screening of this film and it was wonderful to see. They were cheering the whole film long, and when Roger Ingraham got on stage to do a Q & A after the film, the town presented him as their prodigal son. I'd almost rather see the story about how this film was made than see the film itself.
Moonshine is a vampire film, and the crew and director do what they can with their limited budget. To their credit, the film looks fantastic. They shot on digital, and despite all the night and fluorescent light scenes, the film quality is extremely sharp and vibrant. When the vampires move around, the director gives them a very fast and frantic movement, similar to the manner in which Danny Boyle shot his zombies in 28 Days Later. Despite the low budget, the director and crew took extra special care to make it look as professional as possible.
I don't want to spend time knocking the acting abilities of the cast or the murkiness of the plot; it is what you would expect from an inexperienced writer/director creating a student film. However, the one thing that can be said is that Roger Ingraham has an incredible amount of potential to create great films in his future. This story of how he created such a technically professional film on such a miniscule budget will serve him well if he decides to venture into the bottom-line hungry world of Hollywood productions.