Conducting a séance at a house party is all fun and games… that is, until the devil’s left hand uses the spiritual opening to breach the land of the living. Writer/director Harley Wallen (Moving Parts) uses this devious opening to deliver chills in his latest horror feature, Agramon’s Gate. Creating quite a bit of exciting noise on the indie circuit with an award-winning trailer, this paranormal mystery has been on my watch list since Wallen first mentioned the project in an interview I conducted with him early last summer (revisit here). Does this demonic tale hold up to expectations? Let’s dive into this feature and see!
As mentioned above, Agramon’s Gate kicks off with a house party hosted by Richie Stann (Kris Reilly: Moving Parts) and his wife, Cassidy (Kaiti Wallen: Moving Parts). When a psychic medium named Vesna (Aphrodite Nikolovski: The Spirit of Isabel) joins the party, someone asks if it is possible to speak with relatives who have passed away. Of course, a séance is suggested and, needless to say, it does not end well.
Suspecting something powerful has used the séance connection to enter the human world, Vesna enlists the help of Zeb (Director Harley Wallen). Judging by his facial scarring, this mystic is no stranger to battling demonic entities. Meanwhile, Richie and Cassidy and another young couple, Cameron (Francisco Posada) and Madelyn (Jessika Johnson), experience paranormal events and inexplicable sightings, stirring fear that gradually builds. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Richie’s dark past is both the catalyst and the key for the danger they must now face.
With the combination of fantastic performances, practical effects and a touch of CGI helping to bring out the startling demonic appearance at the séance, Agramon’s Gate captivated me instantly. Nikolovski dominated her character from beginning to end enhancing the scene of momentary possession while adding a fearless edge during moments of stress and paranoia. Kris Reilly, Kaiti Wallen, Francisco Posada and Jessika Johnson also give strong performances that help lift the sense of fear and confusion as their characters are gradually tormented by the growing demonic presence. And I cannot forget Harley Wallen, who proves his talented capabilities on both sides of the camera.
While I had hoped for a little more malevolence from such a powerful demon, I cannot deny the continuous talent from SFX Artist Nancy Oeswein (Abeyance). From the scarring of Zed’s eye to a couple of truly gruesome scenes displaying the work of a demonic attack, she did an outstanding and realistic job. Agramon’s Gate serves as an outstanding example of how practical effects and CGI can work hand in hand on a small budget film. However, the demon of Agramon would still fall short if it wasn’t for the performances of Moving Parts’ Calhoun Koenig and Yan Birch (Terror Tales, The People Under the Stairs) who portray this entity of fear in two very different forms.
Appearing as anything but threatening off screen, Koenig’s fierce body language conveys a much more powerful message as she invokes fear into the hearts of her character’s victims. However, it is Birch who carries the more vocal threats of Agramon. Delivering his lines with devilish facial expressions, this cult star steals the screen with each appearance. Well… at least, part of the screen. His co-star, Laurene Landon (Maniac Cop), matches Birch line for line and scene for scene. Portraying Richie’s committed mother, Sharon Stann, Landon delivers enough unstable intensity to cause goosebumps, making her a highlight of this feature.
Despite all of these praiseworthy elements, Agramon’s Gate isn’t quite a homerun, but for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on a first. However, I think the problem lies within the editing. Because there is so little focus on them, two of Agramon’s victims seem to throw the film off balance. With a few other scenes that don’t necessarily translate well onto the screen, the film’s focus begins to unravel at times and creates a conclusion that isn’t entirely clear.
Regardless of its shortcomings, Agramon’s Gate is a unique paranormal piece that I found to be admirable and enjoyable. Fans of indie films will appreciate the performances, special effects and story as the left hand of the devil on a budget goes to work feeding on fear to become a formidable force of manipulation.