Keep Calm and Carrie On
“What would have happened if Carrie was an orphan?” asked no one ever –except the DVD sleeve for June (which is not, alas, a sequel to Lucky McKee’s May), just released in the UK.
It’s an odd question to pose as a marketing hook, but the premise – what if Carrie was a nine-year-old orphan, moving from foster home to foster home? – turns out to be an intriguing one in this taut little psychological thriller from co-writer/director L. Gustavo Cooper (2013’s The Devil Incarnate).
June opens with an even grabbier hook: as a Satanic coven prepares to sacrifice a baby as part of some diabolical ritual, one of the acolytes grabs the baby and runs, taking off into the night. Nine years later, the girl, June (The Walking Dead’s Kennedy Brice), has begun to manifest psychokinetic powers – she could be Carrie’s little sister – that she blames on her imaginary friend, ‘Aer’. Her ‘outbursts’ lead her into all sorts of trouble with various foster families, until she winds up adopted by photographer Dave (Casper van Dien) and his wife Lily (Victoria Pratt). When June’s dangerous abilities manifest themselves once again, Dave and Lily must come to terms with the fact that June may be more dangerously out of control than even the most troubled foster kid, before she tears her adoptive family apart – literally.
It’s fair to say Carrie casts a long shadow, in all its various incarnations (novel, movie, sequel, remake, stage show, TV series) and imitations, so it’s vital that any new iteration brings something new to the party. Cooper & Co. just about manage this, with some effective, if familiar, special effects, and a third act reveal that explains the source of June’s supernatural powers. Of particular note are Juliette and Sean Beavan’s evocative electronic score, and Ryan Patrick Dean’s ‘scope cinematography, and although June isn’t earth-shatteringly original to anyone familiar with Carrie, Bless the Child, The Omen, The Exorcist and even – yes – The Terminator, it’s a solid sophomore effort from Cooper, with an engaging performance from Kennedy Brice.