An unseen assassin is killing off members of the family one by one, but in a way that defies cinematic expectations. A Chronicle of Corpses imagines the horror movie as seen through a telescope, making full use of artfully composed long takes that reduce victims to insignificant pinpoints on the horizon. Scurrying back and forth across the lawns of a musty 19th century estate, cloaked by an all-pervasive darkness, the aristocratic Elliott family is actually being destroyed by the weight of ever-shifting American history and Gothic tradition. Comparisons to Barry Lyndon's affected drawing room tone may seem appropriate, and much of the story is told through painterly tableaus and meditative Steadicam tracking shots, but that reference doesn't begin to suggest Chronicle's wild and often comic streak of freakish morbidity.

An early glimpse of the Elliott clan at communion suggests an earnest struggle for pious redemption. Philadelphia filmmaker Andrew Repasky McElhinney stacks the deck of atonement, providing each family member with secret sins and personal demons. As paterfamilias Mr. Eliott (stoic Kevin Mitchell Martin) asks none too subtly, "Can rooms be haunted, as memory is haunted?" He shares the love that dares not speak its name with his corpulent brother-in-law, a carryover from their distant schoolboy days. His neglected wife (Sally Mercer) finds a more willing mate in their burly stable boy. Their son distracts himself in alcohol, while the unapproachable grandmother (Marj Dunsay) has retreated into silent catatonia. Long before the carnage starts, this is a house of the walking dead.

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