Whispers from a Shallow Grave (2006)

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Whispers from a Shallow Grave
Directed By: Ted Newsom
Written By: Ted Newsom
Produced By: Trudi Jo Marie Keck, Ted Newsom
Featuring: Trudi Jo Marie Keck, Gerald Brodin, Gwen Brownson, Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley
2006

There has been an undeniable trend in the world of popular low budget cinema of late. The true crime crime genre has seen a lot of releases lately – from the good (Dahmer, Gacy) to the bad (Speck) to everything in-between. What audiences seldom see in this category are movies based on the point of view of the victim. To make it a bit more unique, the point is view in Whispers from a Shallow Grave is told post-mortem.

Based on the real life murder of model Linda Sobek, a case I remember well, mostly because it put up a red flag to all potential models that were setting up appointments themselves, without really understanding the danger involved. It seems rather disturbing that it took us all the way until 1995 to really understand the threat behind that sometimes sleazy business, but there you go. Sadly, Linda had to become the poster child before people started identifying the problem.

Linda’s (Trudi Jo Marie Keck) story starts after her death as she ventures back through her adult life recounting important events leading up to her murder. There’s much to take in, like her suicidal fantasies, her choice in bad men and her ultimate realization that she might not get out of the brutal situation alive. Linda can be seen in court defending her innocence as an unseen lawyer (ghostly apparition?) asks her questions about her sexual history, secrets, and her life as a model. Director Ted Newsom also intersperses some real life news and court footage to add a bit more realism to his cinema verite style. A portion of the film is spent on her killer, Charles Rathbun (Gerald Brodin), and although it’s a sinister look at the mind of a serial rapist and up and coming killer, it’s Linda’s story that is so compelling.

Strangely, this movie is reminiscent of the 70s Made for TV Movie Who Was the Black Dalia starring Luci Arnez. On the surface, both films seem wildly disparate, but they delve into the lives of two very lost girls looking for prominence on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. To say both films explore the underbelly of the need for validation through fame would be an understatement.

Whispers rises above its budget and transcends the genre thanks to Newsom’s careful direction and obvious affection for telling Linda’s story honestly. Newsom has tackled everything from monster movies to slashers to documentaries. He’s a lover of cinema and it shows. Be forewarned though – this is a movie full of dark moments and rape. Newsom pulls no punches in his depiction of Linda as both kind and confused. There’s also a nice little cameo by Michelle Bauer (looking beautiful as usual) in a stark flashback that reveals Charles as the nasty little monster he is.

 

This review originally appeared on Pretty Scary.

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