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By Mike Watt | April 2, 2005

The title is the Spanish word for “in between”, referring to both the setting (tunnels leading under the boarder between Mexico and Texas) and the spirits trapped there, waiting to do harm to trespassers—in this case, a quartet of friends who are hoping to score big on a hefty marijuana deal. But the “intermedio” are being controlled by a living man, which just makes matters worse.

I was really looking forward to this one. Film company, The Asylum, is growing a good head of steam with their latest horror releases, though “Ghost of the Needle”, “Way of the Vampire” and “Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill” are little more than amiable time-wasters, “Evil Eyes” is shaping up to be a good one, and I had high hopes for “Intermedio”, if for no other reason than for actress and filmmaker Amber Benson (“Chance”), the most under-rated performer from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, third-billed in all the press material.

“Intermedio” isn’t bad by anyone’s standards. At 82 minutes, it breezes by too quickly to be boring (which is surprising as a great deal of the action involves running around inside what seems to be the same 8 feet of tunnel), and the performances are pretty spot-on, particularly Furlong, who takes the usual stress level of a horror character and pitches it much higher and therefore much more believable. His character panics, he doesn’t have all the answers—and more importantly, when his good friends are picked off, he reacts, he mourns, he doesn’t let us forget that they were his friends, even if the script has only drawn their relationships with very thin lines.

Benson and Vincent are equally good, and props should be given to writer Pittman for working Benson’s real-life broken foot into the storyline. It’s just a shame that she wasn’t given more to do, unlike the grating Harris, who could have used less screen time.

The script is rather muddled, but the plot holes and questions covered up by the snappy pace. Railsback’s “Old Man” character doesn’t have a particularly strong motivation for doing what he’s doing, but he has a snazzy necklace that controls the spirits, so what more do you need?

I should also note that the cinematography was provided by the late Neal L. Fredericks (“The Blair Witch Project”, ), who died in a 2004 plane crash. This was among his last productions and the look he gives the film is serviceable, if not a bit uninspired. The entire film feels a little rushed, which could account for the more lackluster elements of the movie.

All criticisms aside, “Intermedio”, if nothing else, is a harbinger of even better things to come from The Asylum. Each production does seem to be building on the steam generated by the last. And it’s always nice to see horror movies on the shelves.

Ultimately, “Intermedio” is a movie that doesn’t take itself so seriously that it fails to give the viewer a good time. It delivers what most people want from a horror movie: a reasonably good time, some blood, a few “boos” and an arguably undeserved happy ending for the survivors who got their friends killed. It’s the formula that makes the entertainment world go ‘round!

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