Dante’s Shadow of Sin Image

Dante’s Shadow of Sin

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | November 23, 2021

The legacy of the Cinema of Transgression lives on with Native American underground film artist Dakota Ray’s experimental feature Dante’s Shadow of Sin. Dante (Dakota Ray), who is metal as f**k, has been drinking absinthe, snorting hard drugs, and thinking about his old flame, Alexis. Dante remembers their switchblade romance, how he cut her up into tiny pieces, then buried them behind “The Boleskin House.” He sure wishes he could reunite with her remains to desecrate them further.

As luck would have it, his also metal as f**k friend, Mahoganny (Fred Epstein), has just inherited that house, as it was his family’s vacation home, from his dead father, who “accidentally” went off life support. He plans to squander his inheritance on booze and cocaine and invites his friend along. While gorging on drugs, Dante meets Mahoganny’s 93-year-old, deaf, and mute grandmother (Maddison M.). Confined to a chair, she is so helpless that she can’t stop her grandson from feeding her s**t and making her lick his a*s.

While digging up Alexis, Dante secretly stashes some prized cocaine eight balls inside a dead rabbit…”

While digging up Alexis, Dante secretly stashes some prized cocaine eight balls inside a dead rabbit, as he doesn’t trust Mahoganny. Good thinking, as his friend plans to murder Dante. Will our hero survive? What hero? Nobody here except villainous cocaine fiends, evil-looking dolls, and lots of black magick. As Samhain once sang: “All murder, all guts, all fun. With two scoops of Satan.”

Ray directs, writes, stars, produces, shot, edits, and production-designed Dante’s Shadow of Sin. Before we get to how nauseatingly grotesque the plotline is, it needs to be pointed out how well made the film is. The level the filmmaker is working at for his eighth underground feature is extraordinary. The visual vocabulary of angles and texture combing close-ups with lots of clever editing keeps the whole affair from dragging. He also uses a striking black and blue monochrome throughout. It looks like Clowes’ color scheme for Ghost World.

This not only produces some dynamite storm sequences but also makes the visuals even creepier. The soundscapes maintain a haunting feel throughout. Ray was wise to utilize that while using the sludge metal by Italian doom group Naga sparingly, as their great music will not be everyone’s cup of poison. Also, he does an excellent low, growling black metal voice, where it sounds like a demon without drifting into Cookie Monster territory.

Dante's Shadow of Sin (2021)

Directed and Written: Dakota Ray

Starring: Dakota Ray, Fred Epstein, Maddison M., Sholeh Behesht, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Dante's Shadow of Sin Image

"…the legacy of the Cinema of Transgression lives on..."

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