EVIL EYE: Sister Tempest

A few weeks ago, I was at my local theater seeing the new Scream movie. The auditorium was empty, and the film was perfectly enjoyable. I was relieved that the newest in the series met my expectations. It was clever! It was fun! The kills were shocking and scary and some of the most brutal among the franchise’s staggeringly large body count.

I left two hours later feeling satisfied if a bit underwhelmed. After all, I knew I was going to like it. In fact, I had primed myself to like it through trailers and reviews and Twitter hype. I knew what the tone was going to be. I knew the directors had crafted a loving successor to Craven’s meta-slasher masterpiece. I knew Sydney and Gale and Dewey would all return. I knew almost every narrative beat before it happened.

On my way out of the theater, a poster drew my attention. An odd and colorfully illustrated image of four people—faces scowling and scared—and a large character in a space suit behind them. The large yellow type across the top read Sister Tempest. It looked like a low-budget DIY effort, but it had style.I made a mental note to look it up later.

A few days passed and I had totally forgotten to look it up. However, I did remember the poster and the title. I asked a friend if he’d heard of it. No dice. 

You want to check it out?” he said. An idea was conceived: what if we just… saw the movie?

Really, nowadays? Just go to the movies, with no research, no trailers, no thoughtful reviews poured over ahead of time? What if we hated it? Twelve bucks down the drain and nothing to show for it, I thought. All the same, the idea felt embarrassingly novel. Maybe you already do this, refuse to watch the modern, spoiler-fest trailers and summary-heavy reviews, but it’s a rarity—hardly ever in fact—for me. I tend to overdo it, research movies to a fault.

“All right,” I told him. “I’m in.”

We agreed to avoid all trailers and reviews and Twitter discourse, allowing ourselves only the poster and a single sentence plot synopsis: A woman’s new roommate goes on a cannibalistic killing spree.

​Now, how to describe the viewing experience without becoming a hypocrite? Of course, I’ll spare you the plot details. No spoilers here. Sister Tempest is a mash up of many things. Cronenberg, Lynch, Wes Anderson, and Jodorowsky. It’s hallucinogenic and unnerving and often quite funny. It’s a shotgun blast of creativity and the single-sentence plot synopsis is only technically true. It’s also from a local filmmaker. Sure, they film a lot of movies in town, but I was still delighted to seeon-screen locations from around New Orleans.

​It was an oddly dense film, too. My friend and I discussed it for about forty minutes after the showing. We attempted to piece together its influences, applauded its craftiness, and agreedthe overall experience was an absolute trip.

​The most important thing I learned about Sister Tempest is that if I had watched the trailer ahead of time, or had read reviews, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater to see it.Not that it wouldn’t have caught my interest, but I likely would’ve waited for a streaming option. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I left the trailer alone. Not to be overly sentimental, but I’m thankful I took a chance on it. It’s so easy to become jaded by the constant barrage of reboots, sequels, and weak Hollywood adaptations of better films (especially those Netflix anime remakes) and I often forget how much I like to be delighted and surprised by movies.

​Anyway, this is not a review of Sister Tempest. Only a reminder that, if you’re like me, it’s fun to let a movie remain a mystery. It’s thrilling to watch the lights go down, see the production logos fade in, and let the credits roll without any idea of what’s coming next.

​Of course, it’s always possible you’ll hate whatever it is you’re watching, but at least you took a chance on it, right?

Recommended Cocktail: Hell, if you’re watching Sister Tempest, you’re better off lighting up a joint. Or maybe downing a few flavorful beers. A good pilsner maybe.

Alex Tronson is a writer living in New Orleans. His work has been published in Barstow & Grand, Misery Tourism, Expat Press and Hobart.

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