Some films leave you feeling thoroughly entertained and emotionally spent. "What Death Leaves Behind," which premiered at the city of Philadelphia's Prince Theatre on Saturday, March 10th, is a film that manipulates the audience like a maestro and keeps them guessing throughout. (There was another showing on March 15th at Philadelphia's Studio Movie Grill.) "What Death Leaves Behind" was directed by Scott A. Hamilton. It was written by Hamilton, Giampietro, Chad Morton, and Rachel K. Ofori. This is the best film I've seen this year. How many good things can you say about a film that explores martial tension, workplace drama, and cell memory theory?

Death and a blue collar guy

The film, also known as "The Kidney," follows the tribulations of family man and blue collar guy Jake Warren, played by Khalil McMillan, a man in serious need of a kidney transplant. The magnificent Shaira Barton plays his stress-bringing, over-worked wife. McMillan takes on the full impact of Jake's character arc. McMillian plays all of Jake's objectives to the fullest. In some scenes, Jake is seemingly happy and content, and in others he is sullen and surly.

As friction builds between Jake's boss, Henry (Christopher Mann from "The Wire"), and also his friend Andres (the excellent Vincent Young from "Beverly Hills 90210"), Jake spends increasing time withdrawing into himself.

Behind all this is a subplot involving a serial killer doing his grisly work in the Philadelphia area.

Death, twists, and turns

The film was shot in part in SunCenter studios, near the Philadelphia International Airport. The film features many excellent performances, including those by Johnny Alonso and Erin O'Brien; those two actors played a violent, grungy couple within Jake's dreams.

I liked Dennis Jeantet, Wayne Shearer, and Kelly Dowdle as dialysis patients. Steve Ray and Sonia Debreczeni play TV news broadcasters. Philadelphia-based acting coach Bernard Glincosky plays an organ transplant support group leader and radio personality, and actor Al Sotto had a good scene as part of that group. I was taken on a musical journey by composer Tasos Eliopoulos eardrum-pounding score.

The music is as strong as any character in the film.

Suspense, death, and intrigue

"What Death Leaves Behind" is a magnificent addition to the list of indie films shot in Philadelphia. Producer Ofori was reportedly the force behind obtaining everything the film needed to get made. Hamilton, Giampietro, and Morton have made a film that will leave you both entertained and pondering the very strange.