Diane (2017)

Diane first published by SciFiNow

“I can honestly say, she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve seen in my entire life.”

In New Britain, Connecticut, Steve (Jason Alan Smith) is a limping veteran of the War in Afghanistan. He is isolated, earnest, taciturn, able to handle himself – and, with his history of violence, maybe wound up a little tight. When, one morning, he discovers, in his backyard, the corpse of local singer Diane (Carlee Avers) with a screwdriver buried in her chest, he calls the police – but not before taking a photograph of her with his smart phone.

“I would have remembered her,” Steve tells Detective Phillips (Margaret Rose Champagne) and Detective Bernard (Dick Boland). Despite insisting that he has never met Diane and has no idea how her body came to be on his property, Steve is now prime suspect in a murder, harassed by police and drunk neighbours alike, and accused by Diane’s husband Markus (Doug Tompos) of being her lover and killer. As Steve stares obsessively at his photo of Diane, he begins hearing whispers and noises in the house, and soon is having red-lit dreams in which Diane is indeed his needy mistress. 


As the dead woman keeps resurfacing to claim what is hers, Diane is a ghost story of sorts. Yet despite its title, this film from writer/director Michael Mongillo is focused every bit as much (if not more) on the returned serviceman as the revenant chanteuse. For though linked to Diane’s tragic backstory, the film’s central themes – depression, alcoholism, hallucination, amnesia, damage, suicidal tendencies, a sense of betrayal – apply equally, if obliquely, to Steve’s unresolved feelings about his past combat experience and lost friends, making Diane a PTSD allegory of the ills that can haunt veterans. Though it is always welcome when a genre film comes in at under an hour and a half, this one still felt both a little repetitive and underwritten even at a mere 80 minutes, and perhaps might have been better served by a short-film format – but it does offer an unusual take on both the murder mystery and the haunted house.

strap: Michael Mongillo’s psychological/supernatural feature triangulates ghost story, murder mystery and the protagonist’s PTSD

Anton Bitel