Suds & Cinema – Memphis Mini Reel Reviews – Part 2

Pie

A documentary about a man. A man who has learned to hate pies. Not just because he hates the taste, but because they are ruining his life. Yes, that’s right. I said pies.

Pie has a hilarious central concept used to its fullest potential. Directed by Doug Cox, the film uses a faux documentary style to carry this concept up till the end. The genius concept combined with the creative presentation result in a comedy short that I will remember for quite some time.

I give Pie 5 out of 6 reels.

Sac de Merde

Mazie can’t catch a break. All she wants is decent man who is above all else normal. Sounds simple enough but after multiple dates she continues to find quirks that only seem to escalate in weirdness, with hilarious results.

A good story, fantastic script, and an uproariously funny performance by Arielle HallerSilverstone as Mazie are some of the keys that make Sac de Merde shine. Directed by Greg ChwerchakSac de Merde has amazing comedy writing that could make the story great all on its own. However, having Arielle to deliver the lines really brings everything together as she gives us an all-star comedic performance.

I give Sac de Merde 6 out of 6 reels.

Saul’s 108th Story

Saul Moroz shares his incredible story where he installs a pane of glass for a window company. “Incredible story?”, you may ask. Yes, considering it’s 1950s New York and he’s 108 floors above the ground. Don’t worry about it!

A fun short that is basically a very enjoyable story told to us by the man who lived it, Saul Moroz. Directed by Joshua CarlonSaul’s 108th Story puts the spotlight on Saul and he is an entertaining storyteller indeed. As with any great storyteller Saul puts you in his shoes and you actually feel like you’re a glass worker in 1950s New York. The presentation and graphics around Saul as he tells his tale are also a nice touch.

I give Saul’s 108th Story 4 out of 6 reels.

Smoke

After visiting a creepy fortune-teller with his buddies Ethan uncovers a dark sinister secret. A secret that may change the course of his life forever.

Smoke is a creepy tale of revenge directed by Justin Malone. The film features some great editing and skillful camerawork which helps to set up the increasingly sinister mood. Clint Abner does a fine acting job and it shows because we see Ethan’s descent clearly as the joking mood in the beginning quickly turns sour. A great entry into the thriller genre.

I give Smoke 5 out of 6 reels.

The Mirror

Does a mirror really show us what’s happening in reality, only in reverse? Or is only the reflection of our mind?

Directed by Massimiliano Mauceri, The Mirror is an effective horror short with a creative way of telling us its story. The Mirror lacks any dialogue, but makes up for that with amazing special effects and purposeful direction given to the actors (Carlotta Galmarini and Mattia Rigatti). Through the use of these elements we get a very nuanced horror tale that doesn’t resort to jump scares.

I give The Mirror 4 out of 6 reels.

Toasted

What do the items in our house do while we go to work? More than likely they just sit there and don’t move until we get home. Then again maybe they come up with courageous escape plans that rival Escape from Alcatraz.

Done in a similar vein as Sausage PartyToasted takes a style we usually associate with children’s films and flips it on its head. Director Chad Janusch takes a stop motion animation approach with Toasted and mixes it with vulgar adult humor. The results are astonishing because the craft and care taken to make this short is clearly evident. You can see it even in the little details, such as matching certain emotions with specific household items. Fantastically funny and full of visual eye candy.

I give Toasted 6 out of 6 reels.

The Voicemail

A voicemail from a mother because she worries about her adult son going outside for the day. A simple action that shouldn’t be of concern. 

Through the delivery of hearing a voicemail being played, director Kyle Solomon delivers an emotional punch. In The Voicemail we see that, for some people, everyday activities can be much different from others. A short that delivers an impact which will linger with you long after watching.

I give The Voicemail 4 out of 6 reels.

Until next time….

Suds and Cinema Memphis Mini Reel Reviews Part 1

American Craft: What Beer Can Teach Us About Well-Crafted Laws

This documentary short gives us a look into the world of American craft beer. We see the ups and downs over the years as laws have shaped how we produce and distribute craft beer to the public. From its fledgling beginnings to becoming a thriving creative subculture, American craft beer is here to stay.

American Craft is an enjoyable and informative short film. Directed by Matt WoodAmerican Craft achieves two goals that are important to any documentary. First, it attracts newcomers to the world of craft brewing without alienating them. It’s short and stylish enough to just dip your toes into and enjoy, while not being overwhelmed by an ocean of information. Secondly, the content is entertaining and educational. Veterans of the craft brewing scene will appreciate that American Craft is not watered down in any way.

I give American Craft 6 out of 6 reels.

Happy Bath Day

Follow along as a dog takes a trip to the pet store. Once at the store she gets a little TLC with a bath given to her by her friend in the blue shoes.

Delightfully simple and full of heart Happy Bath Day, directed by Meka Butler, is a pleasure to watch. If you’re looking for an intense story with multiple plot twists, look elsewhere. If you’re a pet lover looking for a relaxing movie with an excellent acoustic soundtrack, Happy Bath Day is for you. Also, it’s worth noting that Jada the dog does an amazing acting job.

I give Happy Bath Day 3 out of 6 reels.

My Plastic Buddha

In My Plastic Buddha we get some insight into a mans ideas on the value and importance we put on specific objects in our everyday lives.

Jeff Madzia stars and directs in My Plastic Buddha, an informative short that is both emotionally moving and effective. Never resorting to sounding to preachy, Jeff weaves us a short, but effective, cautionary tale. He tells us how he has extracted meaning and worth in objects that are objectively worthless. We are then allowed to form our own opinion from his message. We can then decide what in our own life may become our own plastic Buddha.

I give My Plastic Buddha 5 out of 6 reels.

Gauntlet Run: Origins

Tied up in a warehouse, a man answers questions for an unsavory group of people while being beaten. He isn’t giving any answers and when a rival member enters the scene an unlikely partnership forms and an epic beat down commences.

Directed by Garrett AtkinsonGauntlet Run: Origins wears its influences on its sleeve. Those influences being high-octane action films. Movies such as The Raid and John Wick come to mind and Gauntlet Run does them proud. The action is impeccable and at times you may wonder if you’re watching a professionally choreographed action spectacle. The story is generic but with action scenes like this I’ll give Gauntlet Run a pass.

I give Gauntlet Run: Origins 5 out of 6 Reels.

Haircut 

He is at his barber, ready to get his haircut. Or is he with his girlfriend, at a restaurant ready to order. The choices are so confusing.

Intriguing, strange, and clever. These are some terms that come to mind when viewing the comedic short Haircut. Directed by George MassimilloHaircut appears as one of two things. First, is this is a tale about life’s endless choices and the confusion that ensues while making them? Or, secondly, is this just an absurdist alternate reality, similar to Napoleon Dynamite or similar shows on Adult Swim? Or maybe it’s a bit of both. Either way it’s definitely worth a watch.

I give Haircut 3 out of 6 reels.

Lightning Strikes

A brother and sister realize that the sister, who is in a vegetative like state, that they have taken care of for years has a special talent. She can predict the outcome of future lottery draws or other gambling endeavors. Will they use this talent for good or will they let the greed wash over their lives.

Story is the shining star in Lightning Strikes, directed by Camille Calvin. A well written script that combines multiple genres along with great acting are what make the plot captivating. Some of the genres sprinkled throughout are suspense, drama, and even some comedy. Irene, played by Camille Calvin, and Betty, played by Emanda Pimentel, navigate these genres expertly and are a joy to watch. The choices dealing with mental disabilities are sometimes questionable but for the most part don’t interfere with the overall quality.

I give Lightning Strikes 4 out of 6 reels.

Macocky 

Jaysons life isn’t going so well. His girlfriend left him, his college grades are failing, and his dreams of becoming a local superhero always end in injury. That is until he goes back home to get his childhood toy, a Macaulay Culkin doll that brings him good luck and comfort.

Extremely funny and charming the comedy short Macocky, directed by Ivon and Eyan Wuchina, excels on multiple levels. The comedy writing is excellent, mixing jokes that are both uproariously funny as well as more subdued leading to an even tone throughout. The story is nicely paced with moments of complete absurdity complemented by more relatable human moments. Luke Enzor also does a fantastic job in playing Jayson as a unique and quirky person while also remaining realistic. All of these elements make Macocky a must see.

I give Macocky 6 out of 6 reels.

Stay-tuned until NEXT TIME, for SUDS & CINEMA – Memphis Mini Reel Reviews Pt.II!

Night (2019) – Reel Review

A man stalks the streets at night. A very dangerous man who has little regard for anybody but himself. He is searching for people that he will use in a game. A game that satisfies the sick twisted mind of not only himself, but also of others that are willing to take part. However, games have winners and losers and outcomes are not preordained, no matter how stacked the decks are.

Night is a thriller/horror film written and directed by Nicholas Micheal JacobsNight is an interesting study into the mind of a deranged man. This man is Adam Audrey, acted by Nicholas Micheal JacobsNicholas does a great job convincing us that Adam is a dangerous person with sociopathic tendencies. His victim is Judy Stern, played by Gianna JacobsGianna also does a fine job. She shows us that, while extremely terrified, she is also very defiant and never gives up the will to live.

The setting and mood of this film are standouts and it shows. Night uses a mix of found footage and traditional camera work and the footage was well crafted and inventive. In a sea of unimpressive found footage films, Nightis not one of them. The plot and realistic nature of the movie make for a very dark and sinister atmosphere. Fans of good thriller/horror films will appreciate that this mood doesn’t ever let up.

A few of the criticisms I have with Night are in its editing. To improve their effectiveness, many scenes could have been shortened. An example would be the opening scene of the movie in which Adam is getting ready to leave. I went through a variety of emotions during this part. At first I was curious wondering what this Adam was up to. I was then creeped out, realizing he was getting ready to do something nefarious. But finally, and unfortunately, I started to feel a bit bored as the shot lingered for to long. 

Night is a film that is equal parts frightening and disturbing. The overall story is simple and some of the scenes linger for little to long, but the acting and craftsmanship is solid. This movie is meant to scare and terrify and through an inventive camera style and deft handling of mood and atmosphere, it triumphs.

I give Night 4 out of 6 reels.

Rules To Kill – Reel Review

A serial killer lives by a very specific set of rules. When these rules are broken, mistakes are made. It is these mistakes that lead to the eventual capture of the perpetrator. However, one particular serial killer (Mike Neider) believes he has perfected what he thinks of as an art. His solution to the problem is simple. Follow the rules and never, under any circumstances, break them. But can you ever really trust the mind of a killer?

Rules To Kill is a short horror film, written and directed by Joshua Hartwell of EVOX Media. Due to the documentarian style, as well as the mannerisms and personality of the main character, Rules To Kill is an extremely cold and calculating movie. As a lover of the thriller/horror genre, and true crime in general, I enjoyed this film a lot.

It excelled in three areas. First, the script is outstanding. It puts you into the thought processes of a person that thinks they are in control, when in reality things are spiraling into madness. There’s also enough nuance in the writing that makes you invested to come back for multiple viewings. Secondly, I enjoyed the diverse soundtrack. It had a mix of songs that set the dire mood for the piece while also providing brief moments of levity. These moments were needed in a film with such strong feelings of dread. Lastly, the cinematography in the film was impressive. The tracking shots of the killer in action were creepy and visceral while the quiet shots of the landscape were quiet and serene. The quiet shots helped in providing time to process the dialogue of the killer and the chaos of his actions.

While I enjoyed this film I would be remiss without mentioning that this experience is not for everyone. It’s for a specific group of people. People who enjoy exploring the minds of people that commit crimes and the thought processes behind their actions. This film is extremely visceral.

Rules To Kill is an interesting look into the psychology of a serial killer. It’s a bit formulaic but through great writing, cinematography, and a killer soundtrack it provides a well crafted film. If you’re into true crime and horror/thrillers I suggest looking up Rules To Kill on YouTube and giving this a shot.

5 out of 6 Reels.

Suds & Cinema – Grove City – Mini Reel Reviews – Part 2 of 2

We’re back with Mini-Reviews for the 2nd half of official selections for the SUDS & CINEMA – Grove City event that occurred on March 9th, 2019!

Static

directed by Anthony Chambers

A house sitter(Lolita Price) arrives at her job for the night. It looks easy enough. Watch an old house and profit. That’s until she meets the odd old man(Clay DePew) in the house. Then there are the strange occurrences that are becoming increasingly unexplainable.

A very well-directed horror short that makes the creepiness of the house the star. I love old haunted house flicks and this captures the feeling of those classics in multiple ways. The camera shots give the viewer a feeling that they are in an unsettling and unfamiliar place. The actors did a great job of putting us in the shoes of the house sitter, while also making us feel uneasy about the creepy homeowner. This film probably wouldn’t do anything for people who don’t enjoy a ghostly horror vibe, but this will impress the diehard fans.

4 out of 6 Reels 

Strike It

directed by Tom Dallas

Another suspenseful action packed bank heist thriller filled with dangerous criminals and gritty police officers. Or is it…

A really fun and creative movie that explores different ways to approach a clichéd genre. The cast is large for a short film and, despite it being crowded, they all do a good job. The true star of the movie is the concept of the film. I don’t want to spoil anything but this movie really opens up after a few scenes and the rollercoaster ride begins. Some may find this short a bit to reliant on the concept but, regardless, I had a fantastic time watching every second.

5 out of 6 Reels

Subject 

directed by August Aguilar

The Subject(Tyler McKee) wakes up. The Subject entertains himself. The Subject eats. The Subject gets out of line. The Subject gets punished and put back to bed. Rise. Repeat.

A sci-fi horror short, Subject plays out similar to an episode of The Twilight Zone. Just like that classic series this film lives or dies on its story. Thankfully, the story is very good. It gives you just enough, bit by bit, to leave you wanting more until you arrive at the shocking conclusion. The plot hooked me during the entire runtime. The special effects are great and the sound design, with  the ominous alarm, was quite effective. Despite some plot holes, which comes with the territory in this genre, I was still captivated.

5 out of 6 Reels 

The Chair

directed by Zebulon Griffin

Bear(Josh Strehle) really loves his new chair. It’s red, probably an antique, and just so dang comfy. However, his girlfriend, Susan(Tifani Ahren Davis), is not a fan of the chair. How far will Bear go for his one true love?

Wow, this was a delight to watch. The acting was superb, the story quirky, and the writing was super sharp and witty. Right from the beginning it’s made clear who Bear is and what his motivations are. I was instantly on board till the end. I didn’t connect with Bear on a personal level, but the writing was so good that I still couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do next. It hooked me from the first minute and I was smiling till the end.

6 out of 6 Reels 

The J

directed by Diaa Bahaa El Dein

A man is getting ready to see his daughter when suddenly, a drug addict attacks him in his apartment. However, this drug addict seems very similar to his victim in more ways than one.

A moving and emotional piece that explores addiction and the choices made that effect an addicts day-to-day activities. In many ways the short plays out similar to a horror film with the scenes being visceral and disturbing. A strong and silent performance along with great direction and camerawork make this a very powerful piece. The subject may hit hard for some viewers but the message is still important.

5 out of 6 Reels

The Pizza Guy

directed by Naim David

Another normal night for your friendly neighborhood pizza delivery guy(Mickey Phelan). Well it was normal until he makes a delivery to a girl(Celeste Blandon), her face spattered in blood.

A horror short that will constantly shock you as a pizza delivery guys shift becomes more absurd by the moment. The performances are great and the script is well written. Everything up to a point was done well, but then things started to derail for me. Without spoilers all I can is that shit gets real crazy. This film is definitely entertaining, but for me the motivations of the characters seemed messy by the end. If you enjoy crazy imaginative plots this film is for you.

4 out of 6 Reels

Well, Slicers, THAT’S THAT! We hope you enjoyed our review of all of the official selections of the first ever SUDS & CINEMA – Grove City!
SLICE THE PLANET!

A Slice of Fright – Mini Reel Reviews (pt 2)

I’m back to review more short films from A Slice of Fright Film Festival!

*6 YEARS

directed by: Kamil Wojcik

Year by year, we see events play out in a mans life. As we go through each event things get progressively more disturbing and terrifying. 

An abstract telling of a series of horrifying and gory scenes, at first I thought this animated short would turn me off. After multiple viewings, however, I find myself constantly amazed at how many interpretations I have about the plot of this film. I’m more fascinated by this short with each and every viewing.

6 out of 6 reels.

*MEAT SACK

directed by: Wages of Cine

A detective and her partner come across a horrific crime scene. After the investigation she must track down the killer that committed the unspeakable act. 

This short is oozing with style. The extremely grainy film footage combined with the excellent practical gore effects makes this film have strange sense of realism. It feels as though you’re watching footage found directly at a real crime scene. Unfortunately, this film also suffers from a case of style over substance. It’s as if this film is missing a second act, something that could explain how we get from the murder to the apprehension.

3 out of 6 reels.

*PLAY WITH ME

directed by: Ash Hamilton 

A girl (Katie Schooley) finds that she and 3 other “strangers” are in a very dangerous situation. A skull-masked murderer is after them and their options for survival are quickly running out. 

I’m a big fan of movies that nail their surprise endings. Without giving anything away this film begins with a brutal “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” type feel, but ends in a completely different fashion. The two components complement each other without ruining the overall cohesiveness of the short. In my opinion things get a bit overly silly at times, especially near the end of the film. It was also very interesting to find out that this film also doubles as a clever advertisement.

5 out of 6 reels.

*AM I SCARY NOW

directed by: Jon David Leslie

After losing a Halloween pumpkin carving contest a boy decides to go out trick or treating. His pumpkin may have lost the contest but it may be more scarier than we previously thought. 

I loved this animated short. In starts off with a “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” feel, making it seem like you’re watching a children’s Halloween special. By the end I was surprised, to my delight, at the gruesome twist that it takes.

6 out of 6 reels.

*COMPENSATION

directed by: Chu-Yi Chen

A man (Ying-Hong Li) is shackled in a dark and dirty room. He has committed a crime, a crime with which a creative punishment is in store for him. 

In a sense this is a revenge film, and a good one at that. With most revenge films we see killing as the chosen course of action. In this film we see that idea being turned on its head. Although a bit more details about the plot could have been useful for clarification, it’s an excellent film nonetheless.

5 out of 6 reels.

*THE LAST CRY

directed by: Cynthia Bergen

After receiving reports of mysterious sounds coming from a abandoned warehouse a paranormal investigator looks into the situation. What she encounters within will haunt her dreams forever. 

At first I thought, “Oh no, not another one of these paranormal investigation films again.”. When this type of movie is done well, however, it can feature some of the creepiest imagery in all of the horror genre. This film is an example of getting it right. It’s the only short that gave me a nightmare in which the creepy old man standing next to the crib made an appearance. Super scary stuff.

6 out of 6 reels.

*ANGEL WATCHING OVER ME

directed by: Even Keel Productions

Kendra(Kendra Lodewyk) is being tucked into bed for the night by her mom(Kelly Fortier). Her grandmother has recently passed away and she confides to her mother that she can hear grandma calling to her every night. Every night at exactly midnight. 

Every element of this film was done fairly well. For me it borders on being a bit forgettable, but definitely deserves a watch for the likable characters and creepy villain at the end.

3 out of 6 reels.

*DETROIT EXPLOITATION ANIMATION BLOCK

directed by: Matthew MCR Ellison II

Disturbing animation and experimental music is abound in this collection of animated shorts. 

This feature is comprised mostly of short bursts of chaotic scenes with deformed creatures being ripped apart and jarring distorted sounds. While I wouldn’t say that these would be for everyone, I also see the creativity and imagination that is put into the final product.

3 out 6 reels.

*LA ROI DE LA MORT

directed by: Jeremy Borden

Madame (Diana Moore) is excited to find that her ancient artifact has arrived. The artifact is soon revealed despite warnings of danger from the attending archaeologist (Jose Bastidas). 

A very enjoyable watch. It executed the classic silent film elements perfectly and had an old school monster movie feel. The costumes felt period accurate which was also a very nice touch. I story was fairly basic but was performed well enough that it complemented the overall esthetic. 

4 out of 6 reels.

*I’M HERE

directed by: James Pinson

A husband (Azhar Ali) has stayed over at work to catch up on some “extracurricular activities”. When he starts receiving texts he begins to realize that maybe this tryst wasn’t such a good idea after all.

The atmosphere of a darkened office coupled with the growing realization that this man is up to no good creates a setting that is perfect for tense thrilling moments. As the time of his rendezvous draws near you can actually feel the heightened apprehension that leads to the realization that he may have made a grave mistake.

5 out of 6 reels.

*CUT

directed by: Jeremy Allen

In a scene reminiscent of “Saw” we see a woman (Valerie Gilbert) and a man (Ian Beckroege) wake up in an abandoned hallway. Bloodied and beaten they both struggle to figure out what has happened. They soon find out that they are in a situation that is more dangerous then they could have ever imagined. 

I enjoy films that are able to borrow an idea and breathe new life into it. The “group of people trapped in a room” idea has been done before but never quite like this. I’d also be remiss not to mention the acting of Tommie Grabiec. He was phenomenal in “Par-A-Site” but arguably even better in this.

6 out of 6 reels.

Hell’s Half Mile 2018 – Day 2 & 3

What’s up, Slicers!

Mark Kelly here and I’m back with more Reel Reviews from the 13th annual Hells Half Mile in Bay City, MI.

The films we are looking at today were screened during the 2 and 3 days of the festival. They are selections that I felt ranged from challenging and thought provoking– to extremely fun and thrilling. We’ll start off first with “First Reformed”.

Continue reading “Hell’s Half Mile 2018 – Day 2 & 3”

Expected NonSense – “Gerald’s Game”

Hey gang, Pete here again to give you my thoughts on the Netflix original Gerald’s Game.

Anyone who knows me is quite aware of my fondness for Stephen King and his works. He his hands down my favorite author. Love him or hate him, one cannot deny his impact on the horror genre both in the literary world and on the silver screen as being substantial. His stories about just any subject on Earth are descriptive, engaging and usually more than relevant.

So it stands to reason that Hollywood would want to capitalize on King’s success.  Many of his works have be translated to the big screen. From The Shining to Carrie to the many television miniseries including Salem’s Lot and the adaptation of my favorite novel of all time, The Stand, there are volumes of King’s works filmed for the unconstant reader. Continue reading “Expected NonSense – “Gerald’s Game””

Expected NonSense – Hereditary

Howdy gang. Once again, Pete Floyd here delivering the straight poop on yet another film that is generating buzz: Hereditary

In a sea of blockbuster sequels, comic book movies and reboots, this unconventional horror film is a throwback to the scary movies of yesteryear. I’m reminded of films like The Shining that work not with cheap scares or over the top effects to terrify you, but instead rely on psychological terror to get the heart beating.

The cinematography is top notch.

Continue reading “Expected NonSense – Hereditary”

DARKLING – Soundtrack Review

“Darkling the Soundtrack”, for the film “DARKLING” by Michael Welborn, is music that is as much psychologically thrilling as the film itself. The music compilation is a mixture of beautiful compositions with dark, eerie elements, making this an album to enjoy multiple times. “DARKLING” the film is a must watch, but “Darkling the Soundtrack” tells the story of the movie just as well.

The main reason this soundtrack works so well is that, despite a variety of musical genres, the tone of the album fits the film throughout.

An early track “Bassling” (by AVZTN), with its slow, calming guitar and bass line, hits this tone perfectly. Another standout track “Stewen” (by AVZTN) is interesting in that it almost encapsulates the feel of the whole movie in one song. The soothing opening leads to a repeating rhythm on the piano that gets almost frantic before melting away to an almost silent end of the last minute. Finally “Overdose” and “Darkening the Pianos” (both by AVZTN) are a great ending to the album. The chaotic sounds of Overdose leading to the calming sounds of Darkening the Piano felt like watching a curtain closing on a car crash. Continue reading “DARKLING – Soundtrack Review”