"Local film belongs on the stage"
Writ. & dir. Ross Ruediger; feat. Bill Gundry, Martha Dickman, Guy Metzger,
Joe Glenn Leard (no MPAA rating)
Ravenswan, a local, low-budget production that receives its premiere, and a single screening, at the Embassy Theater on March 28, begins with an epigraph — Oscar Wilde on absinthe: "Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world." Shot digitally in 14 days within the Otto Koehler House, using actors familiar from the San Antonio stage, Ross Ruediger's first feature is an inexpensive substitute for the toxic liqueur.
Gavin Ravynswaan (Gundry), an eccentric recluse, lures his former wife, Robin (Dickman), and her current husband, Eric Hood (Metzger), to his gloomy mansion for a long night of painful revelations. He spikes their wine with a rare Chinese poison that alters minds and, unless countered in time by the antidote Gavin holds for ransom, will kill his guests. It is the fifth anniversary of the day in which Robin announced that, after 10 years of marriage, she was abandoning the nest. Relinquishing the triply avian name Robin Ravynswaan, she became Robin Hood.
Consumed by self-loathing and swelled with self-love, Gavin is abetted by an elegant butler named Harris (Leard), as Ruediger is by an able cast of four. Like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Ravenswan is a quadrille of psychological torment. Gavin is a former actor, Eric a theater critic, and the production is more theatrical, even histrionic, than cinematic. The premise — that Robin and Eric would accept Gavin's enigmatic invitation and then remain for his perverse entertainment — seems implausible. And the exposition is belabored. Ravenswan spreads its sturdy wings but never quite soars.
Santikos Embassy Theater
281 & Bitters