Diane is the latest from Being Michael Madsen writer/director/producer Michael Mongillo. A short yet thoroughly entertaining ghost story/police procedural/Dogme 95 film; Diane is definitely worth the brief (118 mins), yet intense watch.
The film takes place in the small fictional Connecticut town of New Britain (the film was actually shot in Hartford), where we first meet our protagonist, Steve, an Afghanistan war veteran with a lot of time on his hands. Living off of disability checks and money he gets for repairing engines, Steve doesn’t do much else, except for a drink. He wakes up one morning to find the body of a young girl in his yard. He’s shaken by the experience, yet, for some reason, decides to take a picture of the girl with his phone.
“…wakes up one morning to find the body of a young girl…for some reason, he decides to take a picture of the girl with his phone.“
The police inform Steve that the girl who was found is our titular Diane, who was known for singing in the community theater, and regretting she’s not performing to bigger audiences. Steve is 100% certain he has never met the girl in his life and doesn’t appreciate the police thinking it was he who stabbed her with a screwdriver. There is no concrete evidence against him, however, so they can’t prosecute. At this point, Steve starts having strange dreams and visions. He becomes convinced that Diane is haunting him because he took her picture, even going so far as to tell her husband this information when he pops over to Steve’s for an impromptu visit.
Diane is incredibly satisfying, especially at the end, with all the loose ends tying themselves together in a way that isn’t entirely expected but is kind of in your face the entire time. Michael Mongillo wrote, produced, and directed Diane with a small crew and managed to create one of the more compelling psychological thriller/horror films I’ve seen in quite some time. All while being shot on a fraction of the budget of one billion similar films starring Jennifer Lopez or Garner or Anniston, directed by God-knows-who for $10+ million, with far inferior writing and direction. It’s a great treatise on the power of denial, depression, and PTSD, without being preachy about any of them. I’m not surprised by how great Diane is, due to the excellence of all the other films, or “conspiracies” of Mongillo’s I have seen. If you enjoy Sisters or The Shining or any other creepy paranormal dramas, you’ll love Diane. I know I did.
Diane (2018) Written and directed by Michael Mongillo. Starring Jason Alan Smith, Carlee Avers, Margaret Rose Champagne, Dick Boland.
8 out of 10 Stars