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By Michael Talbot-Haynes | October 8, 2021

Southern gothic enters the future in Cassandra Bryson’s promising debut, Fisher. It opens with a junkie breaking into a tool shed at night, who’s then violently beaten to death with a shovel. Smash cut to Clara (Lilly Leann Wright), a small-town Tennessee teen starting her mornings fresh by slinging a*s pics over the internet. The thing is, it’s not her in the photos. Clara catfishes customers by pretending she is the girl in the dirty images she finds online. She will string them along but never meet them, content selling more pictures for gift cards.

Her classmate Deja (Nasim) discovers her friend’s smutty side, but Clara insists that because it isn’t her, she isn’t cheating on her boyfriend, Chad (Dakota Evans). Chad acts pretty mean at school, calling Jacob (Zachary Rodriguez-Gardner) a Jesus Freak because his dad Frank (Blaine Rincon) is the pastor at the First Baptist Church. Another classmate, Micah (Alexander Chastain), hacks the school computer and changes Deja’s grades to all Fs. That Micah is so mean. Maybe that’s why his dad (Sage Lawrence) always hits him upside his head.

“…someone appears to be stalking Clara, cutting her car’s brakes…”

Meanwhile, Clara runs into the pastor’s wife, Betty (Jessie Bell), at the drug store where her buddy Kimmy (Mia Naipaul) works as the pharmacist. Betty is so happy Clara, Kimmy, and Deja are making decorations for the big Halloween event in a few days. Arts and crafts ensure, but sure enough, Clara’s digital deception catches up to her when she snares the wrong kind of customer. Now, someone appears to be stalking Clara, cutting her car’s brakes, and generally making her life a true nightmare.

I always welcome regional horror as I enjoy indie productions that operate outside the boundaries. Fisher arrives from Eastern Tennessee, which has the advantage of being next to the production hot spot of Atlanta. Writer/director Bryson has done a lot of work in front of the camera as an actress, and it shows in the quality of her performers. Bell already has picked up two best-supporting actress awards on the film festival circuit, with good reason. Her work here is terrific.

Fisher (2021)

Directed and Written: Cassandra Bryson

Starring: Lilly Leann Wright, Nasim, Mia Naipaul, Jessie Bell, Zachary Rodriguez-Gardner, Dakota Evans, Alexander Chastain, etc.

Movie score: 6.5/10

Fisher Image

"…plays it Hitchcockian until it blossoms into a slasher spectacle."

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