Film Review: Ramesses
Kevin Austra leads as writer, director, and actor in Ramesses, a Pharoah-inspired murder mystery thriller in the vein of Silence of the Lambs. Similar to Anthony Hopkins in Silence, Austra plays a killer informant who goes by Seermass. Through a series of interrogations with him, the truth about a new serial killer on the loose comes to light in a mind bending manner.
It’s up to wealthy lawyer and protagonist, Calvin Kralik (played by Kerwin Gonzalez) and Detective Brian Jenson (played by Sedric Willis), to see the pattern of murders and solve the case before more bodies are found. Even though the gruesome violence is described through dialogue, as an audience we are left to our imaginations to picture the carnage. What we are given is a play-like, performance-driven piece.
The settings are contained in all indoor locations, with direction focused on medium close up framing that further highlights the fact that it is a piece not about effects or action, but performance. It brings back the notion of cult indie-mystery favorites like Brick. That even though you may not have a high budget, you can still aim for something relatively high concept.
The slow burn of the mystery comes to a head as members close to Kralik and people who knew Seermass are interviewed by journalist Randall Stevensen (played by Michael Santiago) including a bodyguard named Nate Thomas (played by Kevin Macauley), sassy informant Sarah Morris (played by Rebecca Jane Cureton), and comedic relief Jack Dempsey (played by Mark DiStefano).
Austra evokes the spirit of Kevin Spacey ala Se7en. He has a haunting sense that he knows more than everyone else, dangling just enough of a carrot for interrogators to want more. Rebecca Cureton as Rebecca brings an element of fun with her heart-shaped sunglasses and fishnet tights calling out Kralik on his own B.S. She brings a comedic energy to the otherwise moody, gritty tone. In a way, the people you deem as bad guys start to interest you the most.
Ramesses ambitiously pursues the high concept thriller, weaving in the flavor of beloved comps while focusing on what gets the most bang for buck in indie filmmaking: the characters.
Ramesses won Best Indie Feature, Best Actor (Sedric Willis) and Best Supporting Actor (Mark Distefano), and was nominated for Best Picture as one of the top 8 finalists at the New York Film Awards, May 2021.