When I first heard of Ragmork, I wasn’t sure just what kind of picture it would be…the title conjured images of a fantasy epic in my mind (though that may just be how my fevered imagination fires)…but images released certainly didn’t indicate that would be the case. So just what is Ragmork about?
Viktor Graves (Tim Novotny), a fucked up kid, from a fucked up family, who has grown up into a fucked up adult (as is often the way), walks out of his cubicle-hell of a job and rolls back into the town where he grew up in rural Ohio. Now devoid of the dysfunctional family Viktor begins searching for answers in his life, drifting from one encounter to another before being attacked by a feral man named Ragmork (John Bradley Hambrick), whom our hero gets a bit stabby with.
That’s when things get really bizarre (which is saying something considering the waking nightmare tone the flick possessed before) with Viktor’s paranoia increasing as the demonic visions he experiences take over his existence. Will Viktor survive the horror show his life has become with his sanity intact, or is his new world the hell he sees before him?
If I had to compare Ragmork to anything I would say imagine early Romero doing his version of Silent Hill…and if that isn’t awesome as all hell to you, check for a pulse! Shot in a rich black and white chiaroscuro the world of Ragmork is one of leafless trees whose branches look like arteries carrying obsidian devil’s blood across a steel grey heart, impenetrable shadows, and demonic faces screaming into existence. It’s an unsettling place to find yourself, and the fact that everything within the narrative plays out with fever-dream logic makes the proceedings even more surreal.
While the visuals are absolutely everything to the aesthetic of Ragmork, the film has other elements that work strongly in it’s favor as well. First of all the performance from Novotny as the mentally tortured Viktor is absolutely top-notch. As the film features little dialog, the actors are charged with conveying information to the audience via emotion alone for the most part, and Novotny excels here. Speaking of performances, we get other solid turns from Geoff Burkman (The Manson Family, Babysitter Massacre), Erin R. Ryan (The Girl in the Crawlspace, Calamity Jane’s Revenge), and the aforementioned Hambrick (who usually portrays easy-going, every-man types, but is anything of the sort here).
Finally the sound design and score (provided by Novotny) is the perfect compliment to the dark journey on screen as screams and ambient ethereal tones clash with scorching metal (performed by Thy Light), and the editing (courtesy of Eric Widing who also wrote and directed the film) adds to the paranoia and despair with quick cuts, flashes of horror, and other methods of making us experience Viktor’s insane descent.
To sum it up; if you dig on David Lynch, the previously mentioned Silent Hill, or even the oeuvre of H.P. Lovecraft (the sense of hopelessness, dark family history, and strange small town riddled with preternatural horror) then step right up as Ragmork will surely satisfy!
*Note: I have worked professionally on unrelated projects with individuals involved in the production of this film.