Morgan Lindholm and BJ Mitchell in My True Fairytale (Photo: Gravitas Ventures)

★★ (out of four)
STARS Emma Kennedy, Darri Ingolfsson

It was only recently that I revisited the 1962 horror classic Carnival of Souls for the umpteenth time in preparation to speak about the film on a show devoted to cinema (the full broadcast of that episode, “Dan Schneider Video Interview #314: Why Carnival Of Souls Is Great,” can be found here). I only mention it because of the coincidental timing between that viewing and the one for the new indie effort My True Fairytale. Both films open with an automobile accident that leaves the vehicle sinking into a river. Both focus on a woman whose body isn’t initially found in the car or the water but who then mysteriously turns up alive. And both end with the same type of twist that was probably more shocking and unexpected in 1962 but which now can be guessed within the movie’s first few minutes.

The similarities between Carnival of Souls and My True Fairytale end there. While Carnival is a horror film largely steeped in pessimism and fatalism, Fairytale is a drama that, despite its tragic elements, moves forth with optimism and serenity.

The protagonist is 17-year-old Angie Goodwin (Emma Kennedy), who’s MIA following the accident. Her grandparents (Bruce Davison of Longtime Companion and Joanna Cassidy of Blade Runner) are more upset about her disappearance than her estranged father Dean (Darri Ingolfsson), while her two friends who survived the accident, Sarah (Morgan Lindholm) and her boyfriend Andre (BJ Mitchell), are trying to make sense of it all.

Emma Kennedy - Angie
Emma Kennedy in My True Fairytale (Photo: Gravitas Ventures)

Eventually, Angie reaches out to everyone, especially the father who not only doesn’t know how to react to his own daughter but is also about to flub his relationship with the beautiful Renee (Taylor Cole). There are also strained relationships between Sarah and her possibly racist mother (Alyshia Ochse), who dislikes her daughter’s black boyfriend but never really says why; between a troubled kid (Mark Daugherty) and his workaholic father (Arnold Chun); and between a college hopeful (Juliana Destefano) and her strict dad (Hector Hugo), whose refusal to let her attend her preferred university borders on the psychotic. In fact, practically all of the adults in this film are painted in such ugly extremes that their last-minute transformations into upstanding moms and dads are scarcely believable.

A real-life tragedy that affected writer-director Dmitry Gelfand (billing himself as D.Mitry) explains the nature of the piece and informs the climactic resolutions, all involving characters headed toward redemptions that are powered by love. It’s a beautiful sentiment and the filming was most likely a cathartic experience for Gelfand, but that doesn’t change the fact that the movie isn’t particularly memorable (and for viewers who don’t know the true-life backstory, it will resonate even less). The manner in which Angie “helps” some of these people is tenuous at best, and there’s at least one subplot too many crammed into this 86-minute picture, which in turn dilutes all but the main story concerning Angie and her dull, despondent, deadbeat dad.

(My True Fairytale is available on Amazon Prime, Fandango Now, Vudu and other streaming platforms.)

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