River Phoenix in Dark Blood
11/01/2012 at 08:00 AM EDT
Halloween marked the 19th anniversary of River Phoenix's death
from a drug overdose in Los Angeles. Now, the final chapter of his professional career is being written, as his last film – left unfinished for almost two decades – has been completed.
The beloved young actor
, who was 23 when he collapsed outside the Viper Room in the early morning hours of Oct. 31, 1993, had flown to L.A. the previous day straight from the Utah set of Dark Blood
– his hair dyed dark brown for the role.
The film was only 80 percent finished when he died. But now, Danish director George Sluizer has completed it, shown it at one film festival, and is seeking a wider release for it.
In the movie, Phoenix plays a young widower named Boy who goes to live in the desert, where he meets two stranded vacationers. "Phoenix exerts a suitably charismatic and commanding air in his final role, making Boy a complex, fully mature character," Variety
writes in its review of the film.
Sluizer fills in gaps in the plot with his own voiceovers, leading to a "surprisingly coherent vision of a decidedly oddball story," according to Variety
had its world premiere in September at the Netherlands Film Festival. Sluizer, who is now 80, says he has received dozens of invitations to other film festivals, but would like to see the movie get a wider release.