June (2015)

Evil rages within

Writer: Sharon Y. Cobb, L. Gustavo Cooper
Director: L. Gustavo Cooper

Some of the publicity for June says “What would have happened if Carrie was an orphan?”. That’s misleading. There are some superficial similarities with Carrie (1976) but the story is very different.

After an opening credit sequence that is basically a trailer we go to the birth of a young girl – June. The baby is immediately taken away by robed cultists for a ceremony. We hear about a saviour child with two souls, one pure and innocent the other dark and powerful.

Cut to nine years later and young June (Kennedy Brice) is now living with a foster family of what can only be described as poor white trash – the sort of people more likely to have kids taken away from them than be allowed to adopt. When June gets upset, bad things happen. And with this family she gets upset a lot. After an ‘incident’, social worker Victor Emmanuelle (Eddie Jemison) gets her relocated to a nice, middle class home with new foster parents (Victoria Pratt and Casper Van Dien).

Despite the improved conditions June is withdrawn and sullen and strange events still happen. These she blames on her ‘imaginary friend’ Aer. Things build up and become more violent with Aer making increasingly apocalyptic remarks until we get to the final confrontation.

OK, not very original. But nicely done. Cooper’s direction is very classy and he manages to sustain an atmosphere of tension and menace even when not much is actually happening (which is most of the time). Acting is great, especially Brice who is genuinely scary and Jemison who is creepy without going over the top.

The exact nature of the power is never fully explained. There are lots of references to nature: June loves plants and insects, Aer wants to “restore nature’s balance” by mass destruction, the cult see themselves as caretakers of the planet. Fortunately this doesn’t descend into eco preaching.

Unfortunately the script isn’t quite strong enough. It’s very slow burn, which is fair enough if there’s a strong payoff – but there isn’t. The final confrontation is short and basically just fizzles out into a non-ending. There’s also an annoying voice over during the film making sure we’ve kept up with what’s happening. I suspect both these might have been added late in the production process – if so they were a bad mistake.

So June is a stylish, atmospheric piece that promises much but ultimately fails to deliver.