After two decades the iconic underground horror film “What’s in the Basement” is being rereleased in theaters. The movie is very niche and sparks the interest of local actor Eric(Eric M. Boso), who decides to attend a showing. After being stood up initially by his date, Dani(Danielle Talbot), Eric agrees to a later showing and waits for her in the lobby. He soon meets two of the theatre’s employees, the sarcastic and snooty Megan(Emily Hoffman) and the downright strange Seth(Daniel Alan Kiely). Around this time Eric begins to realize that something is not right. Maybe it’s the old theater giving him the creeps or the back story behind the horrifying “What’s in the Basement”. Whatever it is, Eric isn’t prepared for the events that are about to unfold.
Underground 35 is a short horror/suspense film that also adds in a fair bit of comedy. Directed by Eric M. Boso & Derek Stewart, Underground 35 tells of a horrible event that befalls a group of theatre goers. One of the elements Underground 35 nails is in the direction. The camera movements are smooth and natural. The movie within a movie aspect is also well done. It captures the feeling of actually being in the theater and experiencing the events as they unfold. The character development is great with each character having their own distinct personality. Eric M. Boso does a fantastic job in the lead role, giving Eric a natural and identifiable feel. The mystery element is a welcome addition to Underground 35. It’s captivating and keeps the audience engaged, but also leads to some unfortunate plot decisions.
The main criticism I have with Underground 35 is with the lackluster ending. During the beginning of the film I really appreciated the down to earth feel of the story. It’s relatable and the love of theaters and movie making was greatly appreciated. During the middle of the film, when introducing more eccentric characters, I naturally started to guess what might happen to Eric. Unfortunately, the ending was too predictable for my taste. I felt a curveball was needed to nail the ending. Not something to throw off the naturalistic storyline, but something different than the fastball that was thrown.
Overall, Underground 35 was an enjoyable and entertaining watch. The acting and direction gave the film a relatable feel while the mystery carried my interest throughout. The ending left a little to be desired but didn’t ruin the journey. I recommend this film to anyone who enjoys multi genre films with witty dialogue and unique characters.
Osku(Niko Hill) and Raimo(Tapio Kauma) are best friends. Sure, Raimo can be annoying, stubborn, and a huge asshole but the man sure knows how to party. That’s why Osku invites Raimo out to his uncle’s cabin in the middle of nowhere for the weekend. Just Osku and Raimo, drinking and having fun. Absolutely no worries. That’s until some strange creatures start to arrive and ruin Osku and Raimo’s good time. Raimo is having none of this, however. Raimo will defend his territory. Raimo is The KingMan.
Written and directed by Tapio Kauma, Kuningasmies (The KingMan) is a action horror/comedy similar to films like Army of Darkness and Zombie Land. The film follows Osku and Raimo as the try to find a way out of their absurd situation. The pair play off of each other nicely as their contrasting personalities lend to most of the laughs during the film. Tapio does an exceptional job in character building. Each person introduced is as quirky and hilarious as the last. The jokes are well written and excellent in complementing the unique qualities of each character. The practical effects are also amazing. They’re over the top and bloody in a way that’s quite hilarious.
One criticism I have with Kuningasmies (The KingMan) is a lack of frightening scenes. Most of the horror relies on blood and gore and it would be amusing to see Osku and Raimo in situations where they appeared more scared. The story also leaves too many unanswered questions for my taste, but is a minor complaint as this genre of film doesn’t need too many things explained. This also leaves open the possibility for more stories in the Kuningasmies (The KingMan) universe, which would be enjoyable.
Overall, Kuningasmies (The KingMan) is an excellent action horror/comedy. It’s light on the scares, but the copious blood and gore more than make up for this. The character and world building is wacky and delightfully absurd. I recommend Kuningasmies (The KingMan) to people who enjoy horror/comedies that lean heavily on the laughs. You can watch Kuningasmies (The KingMan) on YouTube and maybe we’ll see a prequel or sequel set in this universe in the years to come.
I give Kuningasmies (The KingMan) 5 out of 6 reels.
John Tooley(Lee Hardcastle) is a survivor. He experienced a traumatic toilet training incident as a young child. John was left scarred by the event but he also gained an incredible gift, the ability to see ghosts. Later, as a young adult, John goes to visit his uncle, Benedict Tooley(Dominic Brunt), and cousin, Ritchie Tooley(Tim Atkins), for the summer. He is going to work at his uncle’s burger restaurant, Benedict Burgers, to earn some extra spending money. Everything is going well until John learns of the haunting in his bedroom. After killing the spirit he and Ritchie put the ghost through the restaurant’s meat grinder to hide the evidence. What they fail to realize is they’ve started a series of horrific and hilarious events. Events that will bring them, their family, and the surrounding community to their knees.
Ghost Burger is a claymation horror/comedy written and directed by Lee Hardcastle. The film is a sequel to the claymation short T is for Toilet that is featured in the 2012 horror anthology The ABCs of Death. The areas that Ghost Burger shine are in its unpredictable story and unique style. The story is bat shit crazy and this, along with the comedic writing, keeps the pacing frenetic and fun. You never know what is next but it’s usually something hilarious and gross. The style of claymation is also fantastic in that it has a low-budget feel that doesn’t compromise the overall experience. You understand that in this alternate universe the characters and the locations would look exactly like this, a deformed and grotesque version of our own world.
Although I did enjoy the inventiveness and unpredictability of Ghost Burger’s story, I would have liked some further explanation in certain areas. A few things could have been more fleshed out which would have boosted my investment in the plot. For example, in the beginning of Ghost Burger we are given no reason for why John can see ghosts. In the end the story is admittedly absurd but I do feel a bit more clarification could have helped.
Overall, Ghost Burger is one hell a good time. The story is consistently captivating and the claymation gives the film a style all its own. Some parts are vague, offering little reason for why things are happening. This is infrequent, however, and it excusable all things considered. I give Ghost Burger a big recommendation for fans of claymation and comedic horror alike. T is for Toilet and Ghost Burger a both available to view on YouTube.
(Message to readers: Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles is a prequel to Claymation Zombies. In writing these reviews I watched them in chronological order and the opinions in the reviews reflect the order in which I watched them.)
Abigail(Kenna Coy) has a special set of powers. After being brought to Dr. Molder’s(Jim Gloyd) research facility she begins a series of tests. Dr. Molder is a leader in the field of telekinesis and believes that he can help Abigail reach her full potential. Unfortunately for Abigail, Dr. Molders latest experiments haven’t gone as planned and he needs funding to continue his research. Emilio Andswarth(Gabriel Kirk) is now bankrolling Dr. Molder’s work and is especially interested in the Chromatron Conductor, a device that, in theory, should focus an individual’s telekinetic powers. The device’s results have proven disastrous in human trails but Emilio Andswarth isn’t concerned. If left unchecked, Emilio might cause an outbreak of claymation zombies.
Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles is a comedy/sci-fi horror short directed by Jake Jolley. Wildly inventive and original, CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles really shines in being consistently captivating due to Jake Jolley’s imagination. The deadpan comedy is a star of the film as we get combinations of wacky and serious characters that play off of each other beautifully. A scene with a special investigation officer taking long sips off her absurdly large water thermos is a great example of this humor. Gabriel Kirk is a standout in the film and does a fantastic job as the bumbling antagonist Emilio Andswarth. The claymation effects also deserve some recognition as they are hard to pull off and commendable when attempted in any film.
A criticism I have with CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles is with the overly complex story. It feels as if to many elements were chaotically packed into the short runtime. During a first watch I had only a vague idea what was going on. I was more interested in the character portrayals then I was in what they were doing. Upon a second and third viewing I started to piece together what was going on, but still was pretty confused. I realize this is a comedy and the plot is purposely wacky on a certain level. However, among the craziness, I would also like clear motivations and reasons for when things happen which I feel the film could have worked on.
Overall, Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles was a decent comedy/sci-fi horror short. While the plot was confusing I did appreciate the work put into the character development, the comedic performances of each actor, and the claymation animation put into the film. I would recommend CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles to anyone who enjoys B movies that have a creative take on the zombie sub genre.
I give Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles 3 out of 6 reels.
(Message to readers: Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles is a prequel to Claymation Zombies. In writing these reviews I watched them in chronological order and the opinions in the reviews reflect the order in which I watched them.)
Dr. Molder(Jim Gloyd) wants to expose the dangers of his experiments. While his intentions where good, the negatives far exceeded the positives. During a meeting with local reporter Ted(Bill Jolley) an accident occurs and a claymation zombie outbreak starts to spread. Meanwhile, at a nearby comic shop, Jack(Jake Jolley) is handing out free comics. He runs into his buddy Cassidy(Justin Little) who is running from the zombie hoard. They soon meet up with Sheriff Locke(David Ogrodowski) and his small band of survivors. Together they must travel through the woods to the sheriffs pickup truck and hopefully escape the claymation monstrosities.
Director Jake Jolley is back with another installment of his apocalyptic claymation tale. Claymation Zombies is a survival comedy/horror short that continues the exploits of Dr. Molder and his ill-fated experiments. This short takes everything from CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles and shapes it into a more coherent whole. It accomplishes this without losing any of the imagination and creativity of the first film. The comedy is still deadpan and funny, with everyone delivering great lines during the absurd situations they are in. Sheriff Locke, portrayed by David Ogrodowski, is a standout being consistently funny throughout. The claymation effects are back and more prevalent than ever as zombies explode across the screen in showers of blood and clay.
A criticism that I had with CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles was the complicated plot that was hard to follow. Claymation Zombies sticks to a simpler story that focuses mostly on the survival of the characters as they make their way to the sheriff’s truck. This plot structure works for me better, as I would rather focus on the comedy and claymation elements of the film. At the end of the day, Claymation Zombies is still a low-budget B movie comedy horror. These types of films are quite polarizing with audiences. Simply put, you either love them or hate them. Claymation Zombies, while being creative and imaginative, doesn’t really break any new ground and is still for a specific type of audience.
Claymation Zombies is a quality entry in the Dr. Molder storyline. It simplifies the plot while maintaining the laughs and absurd moments from the prequel. Claymation Zombies is for a specific type of audience, however, with opinions of the short being divided. I recommend Claymation Zombies for anyone who enjoys a funny apocalyptic zombie flick filled with great clay animation.
Former high school football great Zeke Sweet(Isiah Alexx) is stuck in a rut. He spends his days juggling between doing nothing and working sales at his dead-end lawn care job. With his class reunion fast approaching Zeke gets a call from his friend, Spazz McCraze(Manny Sandow). Spazz wants to get the crew back together just like the good old days. So Zeke, Spazz, Alan(Doc Less) and T-Rex(Nathan Niniisto) all head out for a normal night of class reunion fun. Enter Zeke’s former crush Aleezya(Kylie Cunningham), jealous girlfriends, church buses, and cross dressers and you get a night filled with hilarity that wasn’t supposed to happen!
That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen is a full length feature comedy directed by Tonia Carrier and written by Isiah Alexx. Snappy and fast paced That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen keeps the audience continuously captivated. A uniform combination of crude humor and heartfelt moments lead to the excellent pacing. The character development and plot are well executed, considering the large cast. Many scenarios are playing out simultaneously and never once get confusing. The actors do a great job of playing off one another and have back stories, for the most part, that flesh out their characters. Most importantly, the jokes are funny eliciting smiles and chuckles during the tender scenes and all out laughter during the absurd ones.
Some criticisms I have with That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen are the tone of some action scenes and one character that lacks a back story. At one point a group of women get beaten up by an envious girlfriend. The moment felt more heavy emotionally than intended. I felt concerned for the women’s situation when the hilarious nature of the scenario should have been the focus. The mysterious Mr. Frisky(Richard Pryor Jr.) was also a problem for me. Richard did an amazing comedic acting job but I was continually wondering why Mr. Frisky was popping up unexpectedly. Some answers to this character’s history could have cleared this up.
That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen is a breath of fresh air in our current climate that lacks edgy comedies. Work could be done to the tone of some action scenes and Mr. Frisky deserved a background story. Overall, however, the film was fantastically funny filled with great jokes, fun characters, hilarious scenarios, and heartfelt moments. I recommend this to anyone who wants to check out from the real world for a couple of hours and enjoy a hysterically funny comedy.
I give That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen 4 out of 6 reels.
Dad(Smithey Smithiggins) just brought home something special for his daughter(Whitney McRiverbottom). It’s a doll named Twinkle Daddy(Elmer McRiverbottom), designed to help the family get ready for Christmas. In reality, it’s a game intended to get children excited for Santa’s arrival. When mom(Darla Duodenum) notices that Twinkle Daddy seems to be moving on his own, however, the parents begin to wonder if it actually is “just a game”.
A surreal mix of comedy and horror set during the Christmas holiday, Shelf Elf is bizarre in all the best ways. The film is a unique and creative take on the popular Elf on the Shelf game. Director Brett Smith maintains a grounded feel to the film that counteracts nicely with the more fantastic elements. The actors also do a great job staying in character, considering the wacky premise. Kudos goes to the dad in the film for having to carry Twinkle Daddy around, which looked like an impressive feat.
I give Shelf Elf 6 out of 6 reels.
Kris Kringle(Matthew Sams) has fallen on hard times. After changing his name to Chris Bowdoen he now spends his time drinking beers and eating snacks. Even his buddies T-Spoon(Jazzy Jackson) and Re-Mote(Shane Egan) can’t seem to drag him out of his slump. It may take a Christmas miracle to get Kris back to his old gift delivering, bad ass basketball playing self.
Director Matthew Sams delivers a dark comedic gem in his holiday short Crushed Kringle. We have seen multiple versions of Santa Claus in movies over the years, but Matthew’s take is still unique. By being creative it allows the absurdist elements in the story to shine, making them all the more hilarious. The character work is excellent and pairs well with each actor’s great performance. The plot moves quickly, however, and may lose some viewers’ attention do to the crazy story. Despite this Crushed Kringle is still a hilarious look at the sometimes depressing Christmas season.
I give Crushed Kringle 5 out of 6 reels.
A family has decorated their house for the Christmas holiday. They also took the time to synchronize the lights in time with a classic holiday tune. Enjoy experiencing the sonic and visual spectacle they have created.
Delightful, clean, and well choreographed are some descriptors that come to mind when viewing House Music by animator Joe Doll. By blending two Christmas traditions, holiday music and house decoration, Joe has created something special. The build up in intensity is a nice touch, as it keeps the viewer interested until the end. While there is no story to speak of House Music is still entertaining, nonetheless.
I give House Music 4 out of 6 reels.
Sophia(Kelly Aston) and Adam(Nathan Oesterle) have a problem. Their son Hans(Samuel Gagliardi) has been an absolute terror and it’s only getting worse. That’s when Adam decides to tell Hans the tale of Krampusnacht. The night when Krampus(Brandon Despain) comes to get all the bad little boys and girls.
We have seen the legend of Krampus told in many films over the years. In Krampusnacht, directed by Pete Talamo, we get another version of this horror classic. The set design and cinematography in Krampusnacht are exceptional and gives the film a traditional Christmas flavor. The creature design is beastly and horrifying. The story falters, however, when it comes to the boy Hans. Samuel Gagliardi gives an amazing performance as Hans, but is given some over the top dialogue. The boy is amazingly rude and disobedient, which may distract some viewers while watching. Despite this Krampusnacht is still very scary and is another great entry in the Krampus lore.
I give Krampusnacht 4 out of 6 reels.
Last year Santa Claus(Kurt Salgat) didn’t give a certain little boy(Tobin Welborn) the bike he wanted. This year that boy has something in store for Santa.
In Naughty List, directed by Nathan Smith, Cindy Gaul, and Micheal Welborn, we get an interesting take on the naughty/nice list that Santa Claus uses when delivering presents. What would happen if a child didn’t agree with Santa’s assessment? Naughty List, although quite short, accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is unsettle the viewer. Naughty List is recommended to any horror fan that would enjoy seeing Santa having the tables turned on himself.
I give Naughty List 3 out of 6 reels.
A man(Ian Kevin Scott) enters a mysterious interview and starts an impossibly long questionnaire. A woman(Angela Pietropinto) tells him he must answer, accurately and thoroughly, the complete form before leaving. When the man is later locked in his testing room will he escape or forever be trapped in this place of perpetual limbo?
Alchemy, directed by Brandon Polanco, is a film that asks many questions while answering very few. That is left up to the viewer and, in many ways, is the point of the film. Alchemy is technically very well done. The acting, direction, cinematography and sound design are on point and help the viewer in forming their own meaning of the film. In the same way the man struggled to find a way out of the room, the viewer must struggle with finding their own explanations of the material presented. Alchemy can be a difficult watch, but you’ll find it stays with you long after. This is what makes it an important watch.
I give Alchemy 6 out of 6 reels.
Santa Comes Tonight
Santa Claus has arrived at one of the many stops during his Christmas Eve deliveries. It seems he has run into a pretty serious problem. He can’t get down the chimney!
Who doesn’t like a Christmas cartoon during the holidays? In Santa Comes Tonight you get exactly that. Animator Joe Doll does a fantastic job in taking Jolly Ole’ Saint Nick and giving him a distinctive personality during the short. This is impressive considering Santa has no dialogue, every movement being very crucial to the plot. Although it would have been nice to see more of Santa’s exploits Santa Comes Tonight will still delight fans of holiday Christmas animation.
Christmas is about to arrive and Brie(Gigi Henderson) is worried. She believes she has been naughty. Her concerns are soothed, however, by Santa Claus(Jamie Landau) himself as he is delivering her presents. When she discovers that Santa isn’t who he says he is Brie decides to take matters into her own hands.
Horror has a history of being paired with Christmas stories and in Naughty, directed by Shawn Driscoll, this pairing is pulled off to great effect. A cleverly written story, which keeps you questioning what’s coming next, combined with a creepy performance by Gigi Henderson makes for a horrifying Christmas film. Humor is also added to lighten the mood just enough to make the horror elements more digestible as some may not appreciate the gore.
I give Naughty 5 out of 6 reels.
This Present Situation: A Dark Christmas Comedy
After a freak accident during his Christmas Eve deliveries, Santa Claus(Kyle Vesey) has gone missing. He was last seen at the house of Little Jenny Lou(Ruby Doubtfire). So gather round the fireplace and listen to the rhyming narrator(Andrew Protopapas) as he tells us the tale of what befell Ol’ Saint Nick.
Directed by Alex Caperton, This Present Situation: A Dark Christmas Comedy is exactly what the title describes. It’s a dark comedy with a twist, as it’s also a musical. Well, a musical in that the narrator is reciting the entire story in rhyme. Like some musical inspired films this rhyming element can be polarizing. Since the comedy leans towards the fantastical, the rhyming element fits in perfectly. Similar to other Christmas classics like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, This Present Situation is a dark but delightfully funny watch.
I give This Present Situation: A Dark Christmas Comedy 5 out of 6 reels.
A woman(Haley Webb) struggles with feelings of pain and loss during the happiest day of the year, Christmas. She goes through the motions, contemplating her thoughts. How does one cope when the anniversary of a tragedy lands on a day of widespread celebration?
A dramatic short taking place during the Christmas holiday Joyeux Noël, directed by Haley Webb, takes a serious look at the joyous holiday. Beautifully narrated by Laettitia Guyot, the story of Joyeux Noël is relatable for many who have had tragic events happen during the holidays. Haley Webb’s performance is understated and helps the viewer to see her struggles and emotions. This great performance along with the wonderfully narrated story make for a powerful film.
I give Joyeux Noël 6 out of 6 reels.
The Green Jello Song from Thanksgiving: The Musical
It’s time for the grandest meal of the year. Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks for our blessings and the delicious food we are about to eat. What happens, however, when the meal has ended and the leftovers are ready to be put away?
Short and sweet, The Green Jello Song from Thanksgiving: The Musical is an amusing look into the life of a neglected side dish. Animators Sam & Allison are able to make you interested, laugh, and ultimately care for an untouched plate of food. It would be interesting to get more than a brief visit to this world. Despite the short time, however, The Green Jello Song is still highly enjoyable.
I give The Green Jello Song from Thanksgiving: The Musical 4 out of 6 reels.
Roger Blackstone(Robert Ellis Smith) is extending the olive branch to his estranged son Frank(Nick Gifford). He has invited Frank and his girlfriend Trisha(Lanecia Edmonds) for a Thanksgiving dinner. Things quickly fall apart as secrets revealed lead to some embarrassing and hilarious situations.
A short comedy about the craziness that occurs during family functions Thanksgiving, directed by Mike Messier, is an amusing look into these issues. The situations presented are funny although, at times, they do get over the top. This makes the events all the more quirky, but this style may not be for everyone. With every character being fleshed out and well acted it gives the audience a clear picture of their personality and motivations. Thanksgiving is recommended for anyone who enjoys a well done, dramatic comedy.
I give Thanksgiving 5 out of 6 reels.
A Geechee Christmas
Paul(Matthew Myers) has started a new life, one away from his ex wife Kandi(Denia Hamilton) and their children. Paul’s new family(Paula Walton, Teron Legare Taylor, and Damya Hamilton) are settling in for Christmas Eve unaware that Paul’s ex wife, Kandi, has a plan. It seems Paul hasn’t been the greatest father and Kandi’s scheme is set to give Paul a truly dysfunctional holiday.
Stressful situations can sometimes dominate the holidays and in A Geechee Christmas, directed by J. Paul The Demigod, we get a darkly comedic take on these problems. Setting up a dramatic scenario that wouldn’t be ideal for the holidays makes for a very interesting plot. It then gets even more engaging when a solution to this issue is made. This is when A Geechee Christmas brings the laughs although some may not see the humor due to the children in Paul’s new family being effected in the fallout. A Geechee Christmas is hilarious watch and would be recommended to fans of similar films like Bad Santa.
I give A Geechee Christmas 4 out of 6 reels.
Cookie the alien has a crazy Christmas tale for all the good boys and girls. It’s not your traditional holiday yarn as it’s being told from the moon and in the form of a rap video. Enjoy!
More of a music video than a traditional film Cookie’s Rap, directed by Alan Maxson, is a one of a kind experience. It’s a funny, totally absurd take on Santa Claus lore as rapped by Cookie, an alien from the moon. Obviously this description alone will make a lot viewers skeptical. If given the chance, however, Cookie’s Rap can be a highly entertaining watch. The creativity, character work, and storytelling are inventive to watch which makes Cookie’s Rap extremely original.
I give Cookie’s Rap 3 out of 6 reels.
O’Tidings of Joy
Santa Claus(Kurt Salgat) is giving a rare look into his workshop during the holiday season. Mrs. Emerson(Tonia Carrier) is finishing her tour and is wondering if her son is going to get his favorite video game. They decide to go to the back room and have a look. Santa’s elves, Pixie(Emily Roszatycki) and Mixie(Bruce Falcon), tag along seeming very excited. Maybe a little too excited.
O’Tidings of Joy, a horror short directed by Nic White & Micheal Welborn, is a frightening look into Santa Claus’s mysterious workshop. The film, similar to the Christmas classic Elf, embraces the Santa Claus lore by treating it as a factual element in a normal, realistic society. What’s intriguing about O’Tidings of Joy is the horror tinge it brings that most of these films lack. Santa’s home is unexplored and it isn’t that far-fetched to believe that something strange may be happening there. Although the overall quality is a little rough around the edges the creative plot alone is worth the watch.
This is the 3rd and final set of short horror films review form A SLICE OF FRIGHT Film Festival 2019.
Sick with a mysterious illness a girl(Claudia Trujillo) is experiencing some strange side effects. Curious noises, physical ailments, and random occurrences are plaguing her day-to-day life. Then her mother(Miriam Marcet) visits the family physician(Morgan Symes) and gets a wacky diagnosis.
Horrorscope is an excellent satirical horror/comedy short directed by Pol Diggler. The acting, writing, and direction are all on point and work together to create a film that is fresh and funny. Some may claim this film seems unfinished but those critiques are missing the point. Without giving any spoilers, Horrorscope is made with a certain style intentionally, to further the goal that it achieved. A huge recommendation for anyone who loves comedy and horror alike.
I give Horrorscope 6 out of 6 reels.
A woman(Emily Roszatycki) finds the house she’s renovating has some interesting decorative features.
Sometimes realizing one’s actions is horrifying. In Fresh Start, directed by Michael Welborn, we get a clever horror short that delivers a nice build up of tension, leading to a disturbing conclusion. What’s impressive is the audience views this all in a little over a minute. Some may find the minimalistic approach lacking, but that means more is left to the imagination. It’s what you don’t see that makes Fresh Start a frightening watch.
I give Fresh Start 5 out of 6 reels.
An autumn storm is rolling in as a woman feverishly works to finish her yard work. Suddenly a mysterious object comes hurdling out of the sky, crash landing on her property. She then fearfully begins to slowly step toward the glowing orb…
Playing on our fears of the unknown Neptune is a micro sci-fi/horror film directed by Sen 3 Productions. A mundane activity, in this case raking leaves, lulls the audience into a sense of calm familiarity. The scenario is then turned completely upside down. A maddening conclusion unfolds, one that is difficult to describe with words alone. Despite being more of an introduction to a larger film Neptune still demands being seen, to find out what horrors lie in the orb.
I give Neptune 4 out of 6 reels.
A boy(Tobin Welborn) invites his caregiver(Faith Damian) to try some cool virtual reality technology. She soon finds the world she has entered seems very realistic. Maybe too realistic.
Very Real, directed by Michael Welborn, is a short horror film that leans heavily into its main premise. In the past we controlled technology not allowing it to take over our everyday lives. As more and more innovative devices are invented, that line blurs. Very Real takes the concept of something we mostly believe harmless, virtual reality gaming, and turns it into a horrifying nightmare. While some aspects are a bit confusing, particularly the motivations of the boy in the film, Very Real still is a very scary watch.
I give Very Real 4 out of 6 reels.
Two cleaners(Jason Scarbrough, Gloria Bueno) arrive to clean up the scene of a messy homicide. Weird things begin to occur when it’s apparent everyone hasn’t left the scene of the crime.
True crime has been popular for some time now and in Death Cleaners, directed by Isaac Rodriguez, we get some true crime themes mixed with horror. The setup is interesting because we see the aftermath of a crime scene investigation, which is rarely explored. It’s easy to relate with the main characters. They are there to do a specific job, but they can’t help being curious. We’ve all been there and Jason Scarbrough and Gloria Bueno are excellent in portraying this. Also, Kandie Garcia is perfect in the horrifying conclusion. Death Cleaners is a frightening tale and recommended to anyone who wants a fictionalized twist on the true crime genre.
I give Death Cleaners 5 out of 6 reels.
Being enamored by her beauty a man(Raavian Rehman) is willing to do anything for his new girlfriend(Celeste Blandon). Her name is Lilith and she hopes to mesmerize him, mind, body, and soul.
A poetic take on a classic tale, Lilith is a chilling horror short directed by Aly Hardt. The writing is fantastic, showing the time and care put into the script. Lilith combines elements of films from the past while also maintaining a sense of modernism. This creates an intriguing mixture of filmmaking styles, new and old. The cinematography is excellent with some great panning shots that build atmosphere and tension. The camerawork doesn’t feel forced and forms organically around the script. The dreamlike quality of the film may turn-off some, but it’s this artistic quality that gives Lilith a uniqueness all its own.
I give Lilith 4 out of 6 reels.
The Boston Maniac
Pedro(Pedro Caxade) finds himself in the most horrific of nightmares, trapped in the house of Luger(Bill Hutchens) AKA The Boston Maniac.
Directed by Judson Vaughan, The Boston Maniac is a horror short described in one word: Brutal. Luger is a villain that would scare anybody out of their mind and Bill Hutchens plays him excellently. The cinematography and lighting add to the film by creating shots that are gruesomely beautiful. The gory practical effects are just icing on the cake. For fans of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hostel, The Boston Maniac is wholeheartedly recommended.
I give The Boston Maniac 6 out of 6 reels.
I Know You
While casually reading a book Mike Fischer(Kyle Blair) gets interrupted by a complete stranger(David Waldman). “I know you,” the stranger replies. Mike, however, does not and is getting concerned as this stranger seems to know him exceptionally well.
Problems in our lives always seem to catch up to us and in the dark comedy I Know You directed by Nic White, things are no different. A problem has caught up to Mike and he deals with it in a hilarious fashion. The physical comedy in I Know You is enjoyable, and will leave you laughing despite Mikes dire situation. We also get some descent gore in and the special effects are very well done. The low-budget is noticeable but with solid acting, creative direction, and plenty of laughs I Know You rises above.
I give I Know You 5 out of 6 reels.
The Nervous Breakdown
An odd creature gets trapped in the confines of a hotdog bun. If that got your attention then continue on into the mad world of The Nervous Breakdown.
Excellent audio and visual artist MCR Electric Otto brings his brand of chaotic animation to life with The Nervous Breakdown. Stuttering hand drawn visuals accompanied by aggressive electronic beats create something stunningly unique. Some will love it, some may hate it, but none can deny the artistry and creativity in this animated short.
John’s(Matt Kelly) order has finally arrived and he’s beyond excited. He has bought a robot named Patina(Alan Maxson) and can’t wait to show it to his wife, Alexa(Annabel Barrett). Alexa isn’t amused, however, as Patina is malfunctioning and it’s getting worse as the day goes on.
Sci-fi has always been a good companion to horror and Patina, directed by Alan Maxson, is no different. The genres blend together seamlessly with a dash of dark comedy added to the mix. While we’ve seen rouge artificial intelligence stories before it’s the overall execution that pulls Patina together. The acting is exceptional with all three actors playing off each other nicely whether it be for laughs or for scares. The sound design is also terrific with Patina’s movements sounding both prehistoric and futuristic. Patina is fantastic on all fronts and is highly recommended for any lover of the sci-fi/horror genre.
I give Patina 6 out of 6 reels.
The Soul Collector
The hunter(Michael May) is collecting souls when he happens on the home of his next victims. As the hunter approaches a wife(Tierney Michon) is preparing to shower while her husband(Travis Cox) is watching television with their children. A surprise awaits when he finds this family isn’t as helpless as they seem.
With The Soul Collector director Nick Peterson has made a sci-fi/horror short that is absolutely oozing with style. The art direction stands out and it’s this uniqueness that gives The Soul Collector a memorable quality. The story, which begins as a standard slasher movie, goes places that are certainly unexpected. Some may question the use of the art style for the entire film as it creates some mild confusion, but it doesn’t take away from the quality of the film or the excitement it elicits.
I give The Soul Collector 5 out of 6 reels.
A deranged man(Nicholas Badamo) is attacking the poor patrons of a bar. No. . . wait, now he is dancing seductively with a woman(Christi Perovski). Watch as an intriguing story unfolds that is unlike anything considered normal.
A film difficult to critique due to how it unfolds, Verso is full of charisma, attitude, and mystery. Directors Ryan Russell Steele and Joseph Victor have created Verso in an interesting way that not only progresses the story, but also uniquely shifts the genre of the film. Morphing the genre not just in the moment, but of the film in its entirety. Verso has interesting art house decisions that may turn off some viewers, but the choices made were for the overall vision and enhancement of the film.
I give Verso 5 out of 6 reels.
Razaphel(Tanner Sells) is having terrible dreams. Nightmares of a group that call themselves the reapers. Razaphel tells his grandmother, Marion(Jami Cullen), about the nightly terrors hoping for an explanation. Marion’s sympathy soon turns to excitement as she knows exactly what Razaphel’s dreams are prophesying.
Directed by Gin Wills, The Reapers is a fantasy horror film that is full of rich lore. On the surface, The Reapers is your standard “I’ve had a bad dream” tale where little info is given about what is going on. In The Reapers, however, you receive an explanation for the nightmares. The audience gets answers for many questions, but also leaves enough mystery for future installments. The overall quality of The Reapers is rough, but the imagination and creativity remain unaffected. This should help in the making of future films should they be made.
I give The Reapers 3 out of 6 reels.
After locking up for the evening a janitor(Jimmy Doom) begins the job of cleaning the local church. After a while he finds that he’s not along when he finds a mysterious woman sitting among the pews. Politely asking her to leave proves dangerous when a devastating chain of events begins.
Apollyon, directed by Bret Miller, is a horror story that delivers a strong message about issues in today’s society. It’s a slow burn, but the tension builds perfectly as Apollyon leads to its last act. The story that Apollyon conveys builds nicely, weaving perfectly with the building tension. It’s societal message comes across unobtrusively, not being thrown in the viewers face. The suffocating tension melding with the intense plot leads to a conclusion that is a deafening crescendo of horror.
I give Apollyon 6 out of 6 reels.
Everything is perfectly normal in the household of a father(Jesus Andres De Dios), mother(Virginia Nolting), and their son(Felix Martin Lobato). Sure strange events are occurring in the neighborhood but nothing to be really worried about, right?
Sometimes people are so fixated on daily activities that they don’t notice the world around them. This is especially true of children and in Arcanus, directed by Fernando Ruiz, we get exactly that. A film that is extremely jarring in it’s scary moments, Arcanus has some very unique jump scares. Through the use of electronic music (think Aphex Twin and Squarepusher) and quick camera cuts to disturbing imagery, Arcanus delivers us these creative scares. Though the story could give us a bit more answers about what’s going on, Arcanus still delivers a slick presentation with plenty of style.
I give Arcanus 4 out of 6 reels.
The cabal leader(John Creedon) is finally ready to resurrect the long dead king. All he needs to do is recite some phrases from the sacred texts. Now where did he put those stubborn sacred texts?
A micro comedy/horror directed by Emmet O’BrienLong Overdue takes a moment we’ve all had, realizing we’ve lost something, and turns it into a hilarious short. The amount of lore and world building packed into Long Overdue is impressive, seeing as it’s only a minute long. The film relies solely on one premise, however, and it would have been nice to see a few more quick jokes thrown in. This doesn’t distract from Long Overdue’s quality and by the end of the film any audience will be laughing out loud.
I give Long Overdue 5 out of 6 reels.
Michael North(Cliff Beverly) is having a very stressful day. He has just skipped his fathers funeral and the reading of his will. Micheal is soon visited by Phil Carter(Steve Ledyard), a representative of his father’s affairs. It seems that Micheal’s father left him an important item. An item that will change Michael’s perspective on life forever.
In the first minutes of Bequeathed we get what many horror movies are unable to do in an hour by establishing a gripping plot that hooks the audience. Both director Michael McCallum and actors Cliff Beverly and Steve Ledyard are able to create a story that is rich with potential. When the scares begin to take hold not only are they terrifying but they also work to further the lore. In the end a few to many questions are left unanswered, which may cause some confusion. A minor criticism though because Bequeathed still leaves the viewer with an eerie sense of suspense and unease.
I give Bequeathed 5 out of 6 reels.
The past few nights a woman(Janissa Saracino) is plagued by a stranger who is attempting to enter her locked apartment. Her doorknob turns back and forth as she is stricken with fear. Upon seeing that her neighbor(Dre Soule) is experiencing the same phenomenon, she lets the stranger inside. . .
What begins as a straightforward horror concept of attempted home invasion turns toward the mysterious and weird in Midnight Visitor. Directed by Abby Brenker, Midnight Visitor has one of the more interesting ideas you’re like to see for a horror movie antagonist. The film creates a otherworldly setting that imbues a lingering sense of creepiness in the viewer. Questions about the Midnight Visitor will be with the audience long after the film has ended.
I give Midnight Visitor 4 out of 6 reels.
El Bano 3
A woman(Freespirit_Mace) is out for a walk when she stumbles upon some skeletal remains. Instead of contacting the authorities she gets entranced by a jewel that she finds on the body. A jewel that is both precious and deadly.
A horror short directed by Studi Yo Bless, El Bano 3 plays out like a classic fairy tale. Similar to old horror stories told around the campfire, El Bano 3 will send shivers down your spine. Most people have had the urge to take abandoned items of value and in this way El Bano 3 is a cautionary tale. The film is a modern take on this story, done with a style and grace that makes it more approachable for a newer audience. While the low-budget may turn off some viewers El Bano 3 still has a nostalgic old school charm.
I give El Bano 3 3 out of 6 reels.
Stay tuned for PART 3 of 3 – A SLICE OF FRIGHT Film Fest 2019 Mini Reel Reviews!