The Entrant (Sean Harrison Greer): This short is about a gym owner embroiled in a sexual scandal with one of his clients and the impact that it has on his marriage and his career. The story is told almost entirely through news stories providing narration. Of this five shorts, this one probably had the highest production quality. I enjoyed some of the psychological impacts of how the main character coped with loss. However, I was not a fan of the news stories serving as essentially the only dialogue driving the story. By using narration to tell what has happened, rather than just showing what happened, it does not give me time enough to be connected enough to the character to really care about what happens. The film was shot well - I just wish that more would have been invested into the characters.
Cold Shoulder (Joseph Heath): A woman brings home a necklace, but haunted by the feeling that someone is following her. The feeling of being followed intensifies as the power of the necklace grows. This was a very short and simple story. Not much backstory was given and there was no explanation given as to why things happened the way that they did. However, I think that it worked. By just picking up at a specific point in time and then ending with a cliffhanger, this forces the viewer to ask questions. I think that part of what makes a good film is the ability to keep people talking about it after. Some of the unanswered questions really lead to the increased mystery. Then again, some of it just leads to unanswered questions. (mintypineapple.com, twitter: @mintypineapple)
The Girl in the Photo (Sannah Parker): This was another short and simple story with the majority of the dialogue being news stories providing the narrations. As I mentioned above, I am not a fan of using news to tell the story. I would much rather have seen the events transpire, rather than just being told about them. That being said, the plot of this film had a very 70s feel - in a good way. You knew who the killer was going to be, so it was less about the surprise for the audience and more about the thrill of the chase. I just wish that there had been a bit more of the actual chase and, more specifically, more buildup leading to the chase. (instagram:@sannahmarie)
This is Hell (Chad Wilson): This was essentially The Excorcist, but with college kids/young adults. There were several things about this short that got a chuckle out of the audience. Unfortunately, (and I hate to say this) I honestly could not tell if the short was intended to be humorous or if the dialogue was just too cliched and over-acted. (https://www.youtube.com/user/krumpmaster4/featured)
Tailypo (Cameron McCasland): Of all of the local shorts, this one was definitely my favorite. This was the tale of a man and his dog living in the woods of Appalachia and their encounter with a woodland monster. The reason that this was my favorite was because it actually emphasized the character. His interactions with the dog felt genuine and gives an insight into who the character is. Even though I know that he is going to die at the end (he is the only character...of course he is going to die), I care enough about the character to where it still has an impact. My biggest critique of this short was that it went on a bit too long. Things should have ended the first time that the character goes back outside to investigate the sound. (cameronmccasland.com)
The Mill at Calder's End (Kevin McTurk): This short was about a curse that haunts a family and the journey one man must go on to try to end the curse. The entire movie was done with puppets and it was amazing! The classic feel of the story brought me in, but what really captivated me was the use of puppets. One of the reasons that I love movies is because of the imagination and sense of wonder that comes with creating reality from fantasy. The story might have brought me in, but it was definitely the artistry that kept me hooked! (www.thespiritcabinet.com, twitter: @spiritcabinet)
El Gigante (Gigi Saul Guerrero): The description that was given at FAFF was "Texas Chainsaw Massacre with luchadors." That is about as accurate as a description can get. I like to say that it is like Nacho Libre on the Scarecrow's nerve gas. There was a lot of gore crammed into a short amount of time. Also, even though no backstory was given on some of the characters, it was fairly easy to have a clear sense of what those characters were like. Of course, this was probably due in large part to playing off of some of the tropes set in movies such as TCM. El Gigante is in talks to be picked up as a feature length film. I'm interested to see how the expand the story. Specifically, I am curious about which character the story will revolve around. (www.luchagoreproductions.com, twitter: @horrorguerrero)
From a Whisper to a Scream (Jeff Burr): This was an 80s horror that was gruesomely fun and brought together so many different aspects that made 80s horror uncomfortably enjoyable to watch. Each of the shorts not only had gore, but also had some underlying tale or moral that helped to actually intensify the horror. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, just because a movie is startling does not mean that it lives up to "horror" status. For a movie to truly be horrific, it must play on underlying fears and taboos. And this movie was full of fears and taboos! From relationships that bordered on incest, necrophilia, immortality, suffering, and slavery, this movie most certainly gives the audience plenty to talk about well after the movie is over.
Tales of Halloween: This is another anthology, with each segment done by a different director. All of the stories are loosely tied together around one Halloween night in a suburban neighborhood. This was by far the most enjoyable movie of the day and probably one of the best horror anthologies that I have ever seen. It is by no means perfect, but it was about as good as an anthology can get! The stories were gory, fun, humorous, poignant, well-produced, well-acted, and just an all around good time. There were monster stories, aliens, backwoods murderers, demons, hellacious kids....really, practically all of the major types of horror stories were covered. Humor was infused throughout the movie, but not in a way that made the stories juvenile or condescending. Tales of Halloween is a horror movie for people who love horror and who realize that Halloween movies are supposed to not only be scary, but also a hell of a lot of fun. (talesofhalloweenmovie.com)
Unfortunately, I had to leave after Tales of Halloween was over. But, I hope that you enjoyed my reviews of what I was able to catch. I had an amazing time at the Frightening Ass Film Fest and it really was the best way that I could have started my Halloween this year. I cannot wait until next year!...hopefully I'll be able to stick around the entire day.
So, this officially concludes my Halloween Movie Month reviews for 2015. Be sure to check back soon for more reviews. In the meantime, leave comments on this (or any other) review, follow me here, on twitter (@GargyleReviews), and on facebook (www.facebook.com/thegargyle), and let me know what movies you'd like to see me review.
Also, be sure to check out Mass Listeria at masslisteriapodcast.com and follow on twitter @MassListeria, @Daniel_Guy, and @FradyTim.
- The Gargyle