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[FrightFest 2023] FILM REVIEW: Cheat

Cheat - FrightFest World Premiere

Director: Nick Psinakis, Kevin Ignatius

Starring: Corin Clay, Michael Thyer, Danielle Grotsky, Brady O'Donnell

Written by: Nick Psinakis, Kevin Ignatius

Produced by: Nick Psinakis, Kevin Ignatius

Cinematography by: Connor Smyers

Original Score by: Kevin Ignatius


A supernatural being from the afterlife is violently killing anyone who cheats on their significant other in the small college town of Silvercreek, Pennsylvania. But everything is not as it seems.


Nobody sets out to make a bad film on purpose. Anybody that wants to make it in the film making business truly puts their hearts and souls into projects; surrounding themselves with likeminded people, who are talented in their own fields (actors, production designers, lighting designers etc.) It’s amazing when a film is made and a miracle when it can actually be shown to an audience. Now saying all this, not all films are good, and they can often be linked to the people at the base of the project. If you’re not a naturally good storyteller, it doesn’t matter how many talented people you surround yourself with, the baseline story you’re trying to tell will be bad. Unfortunately, the directors/writers of 'Cheat', Nick Psinakis and Kevin Ignatius, aren’t very good storytellers.

Maeve (Corin Clay) moves to a small college town and ends up staying with Charlie (Mick Thyer) while studying in college. One night Maeve and Charlie sleep together and this causes a ghost to be unleashed on the town, killing random teenagers. Nothing new or inventive really but a solid base to set up some scary moments. It’s actually impressive how badly Psinakis and Ignatius fumble the ball here.

I often found myself laughing at how bad the film is. Terrible acting, a horrendous script and a horror movie that lacks any type of scares. I felt bad for Corin Clay most of the time; she’s really giving it her all and she’s definitely the best actor in the cast, it’s just a shame that she’s given nothing to work with. I’ve never seen Mick Thyer in anything else but this role doesn’t encourage me to seek out his other work. I’m not sure if it’s Mick’s acting or the direction he’s being given or the bad script but he’s giving a performance that wouldn’t look out of place in a Neil Breen film.

The film lacks any sort of tension or scares to the point that it’s enraging. The plot doesn’t truly kick in until the 40-minute mark, and I'm a man who enjoys a slow burn film, but there’s a difference between a slow burner and not even having the oven on. The threat of the film is a girl walking around in a white dress with some dark make up on. For a film that seemingly has a budget, it’s embarrassing that this is all they could come up with. It’s as if the directors don’t have a knowledge of what actually makes something scary. There’s a lack of atmospheric lighting, sound or acting to any of the “scary” scenes. Just an actor in a white dress. Spooky.

One positive I can say about the film is the cinematography. Connor Smyers does a decent job with what he’s given. Conversation scenes shot indoors are shot in an intriguing enough way that it keeps your interest at least.

It sounds like I'm being extremely mean to the film makers, but I can't describe enough just how much of a whiff this film is. It often feels like an impression of a horror film, and a bad impression at that. 'Cheat' isn’t offensively bad, it’s just offensively uninspired, and somehow that feels worse.

Verdict: ⭐️½

- Adam Neeson

'Cheat' received it's World Premiere at FrightFest '23 on August 24th

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