In her feature debut, Blame, Quinn Shephard just about does it all and proves to be a revelation. Whether it’s directing, writing, acting, editing, or producing, Shephard is a versatile talent. Not many filmmakers would do this much in their feature debut by Shephard rises to the challenge. It does not hurt that she has a real knack for storytelling.
Abigail Grey (Quinn Shephard) isn’t your typical student. She’d rather have her nose in a book than deal with the awful high school environment. I don’t blame her at all because high school can be very brutal. As the school year starts, Abigail has only recently been released following a stint in the psych ward. It’s because of this that her being teased comes as no surprise. Shephard plays the character with great strength. It’s no surprise since this is a character that has lived inside her since high school!
Right from the start, one can tell that there’s no friendship between Melissa Bowman (Nadia Alexander) and Abigail. Not when Melissa is writing “Psycho Sybil” on the locker. Melissa is a surefire stand-in for all the popular girls in school but she has some ulterior motives hiding beneath the surface. The conflict between the two help drive the film. It gets worse for Melissa when the school’s new drama teacher, Jeremy Woods (Chris Messina) opts to cast Abigail in the leading role for the drama showcase, a performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The casting allows Abigail to grow as a person but before she knows it, a fantasy relationship with Jeremy becomes reality. Seeing the bond between the two of them, Melissa becomes enraged and jealous. Tensions between the two will only grow out of control as Melissa decides to take Abigail out of the picture.
The cinematography alone helps to set Abigail and Melissa worlds apart from each other. It’s an old-school look for Abigail’s world while jewel tones inhabit Melissa’s universe. It’s a magnificent job in storytelling on the part of Shephard and director of photography Aaron Kovalchik.
Setting The Crucible for the drama showcase makes for an interesting choice given the theme’s of the film. The film in its own right serves as a contemporary re-telling of the Arthur Miller play. Look no further than character names. Abigail Williams is the main antagonist of the play while Abigail Grey is the film’s star. In updating the story for a new generation, the film switches it up by giving both parts of Williams’ personality to both Abigail and Melissa. The latter is power-hungry in comparison. With someone like Shephard crafting the story, it makes sense to give it a female POV.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Quinn Shephard
CAST: Quinn Shephard, Nadia Alexander, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Marcia DeBonis, Tessa Albertson, Sarah Mezzanotte, Owen Campbell, Luke Slattery, with Tate Donovan and Chris Messina