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.
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.
We’re back with Mark Kelly’s mini reel reviews of the remaining SUDS & CINEMA – Knoxville short film selections!
A man(Cody Lovorn) encounters a major dilemma. Should he or should he not eat the delicious snack he has found lying on the floor?
Directed by Cody Lovorn, Cheeto is a comedic micro short. What Cheeto lacks in terms of story it makes up for in quality and entertainment. A hilarious look into a moment that everybody has probably experienced,
I give Cheeto 3 out of 6 reels.
After an evening of browsing the internet, doing some research on purchasing a home security system, a man(Cody Lovorn) decides to call it a night. As he heads for bed, however, he soon realizes that his decision to install a security system may have come to late.
A film directed by Cody Lovorn, Don’t Die is a frightening look into the horror sub genre of home invasion. Close attention is payed to the setup of specific shots, which leads to an authentic feeling of fear without resorting to jump scares. Due to the high quality of the filmmaking and the subject being highly relatable,
I give Don’t Die 6 out of 6 reels.
Novelist Jared Draybeck(Michael McCallum) is going through a rough time. He’s got a bad case of writers block and the relationship with his partner Jalynne(Rachel Mender) is crumbling. Jared plans a long session of writing at his friend Davids(Wolf Hogan) house where he reads the most important piece of fan mail he’s ever received.
Foreword is a mind bending tale of jealousy and revenge directed by Michael McCallum. The plot and excellent way in which the director leads us through the story are what makes Foreword intriguing. Some questions were purposely left unanswered which supports a sense of mystery and suspense. The acting is not a strong part of Foreword, but doesn’t distract from the film.
I give Foreword 5 out of 6 reels.
Voice in the Radio
Kevin(Vince Hobart Smith) is trying to find meaning in his life and of a voice(Haydn Wolfie Koeller) that he hears. A voice that has reassured in the past, but is now asking more of Kevin. A voice that comes out of an old, static filled radio.
Voice in the Radio is a drama directed by JW Cox. It’s a moving look at a mans search for the meaning behind a mysterious voice he hears on an old radio. Effective acting is an essential element to many dramas and Voice in the Radio doesn’t disappoint. Vince Hobart Smith does a terrific job as Kevin and he goes to incredible places with the smartly written script. While the film does walk the line in being overly dramatic in delivering its message,
I still give Voice in the Radio 4 out of 6 reels.
A father(Curt Willis) encounters a strange being(Kristin Cochell) in the woods. A strange being that threatens to destroy his wife(Chloe Zeitounian), daughter(Ava Culpepper), and his own sanity.
Papa, a folk horror film directed by Brain Peery, is a terrifying look at a mans mind slowly disintegrating and the destructive relationship with his family. In nuanced fashion we see how a variety of relationships, whether it be man/nature, wife/husband, or daughter/father, can begin to crumble. The acting, the writing and the cinematography were all done with great care in furthering the disturbing story.
I give Papa 6 out of 6 reels.
At the grocery store a customer(Tyler Broadway) walks to the self checkout, ready to ring up his items. As we all know, sometimes these machines do some pretty weird things. It’s almost as if they have a life of their own.
A hilarious comedy directed by Hanson Devil, Self Checkout is a slightly off kilter look at the self checkout process, in which most of us know the problems. Self Checkout is an absurdist take on one of these scenarios. The jokes are well written and come at a brisk pace. Tyler Broadway’s over the top delivery also contrasts well with Megan Jones’s dry humor as the self check automated voice.
CinemaSlice is proud to have showcased so many awesome short films at SUDS & CINEMA – Knoxville! Join Mark Kelly as he writes a mini Reel Review on each of the official film selections for this event.
A young woman, who is walking through the woods, suddenly notices that someone is following her. Who is following her and will she be able to escape?
A micro horror film directed by Seth Young, Hunted is an effectively scary thriller. Based on being chased by an ominous danger, it plays on our real fears. Hunted feels lacking in story due to the length but in doing so it leaves the viewer haunted by the questions it leaves unanswered.
I give Hunted 3 out of 6 reels.
A game of tennis turns into an epic battle for the ages as Jordan(Chance McDuffy) faces of against his overly eager buddy Nick(Greg Collins).
A comedy directed by Logan Solana, Tennis is a hilarious look at two buddies in a “friendly” competition. Jordan and Nick are instantly likable characters that play well off each other due to their contradicting personalities. The writing is fine, but what really shines here is the physical comedy and timing. The joke delivery is spot on and the level of absurdity is appropriate.
I give Tennis 4 out of 6 reels.
While working on a nature program a producer(Forrest Ferguson) and an editor(Jamie Hickman) encounter something strange. Is it a glitch in the equipment or is something more otherworldly occurring.
Drop Frame is a suspense/mystery film directed by Philip Tatler IV. Although some might classify this as horror, Drop Frame is different. Instead of bombarding the viewer with jump scares and gore, it leaves the viewer with a sense of unease and dread. You’re never quite sure exactly what is going on and just when you think you do Drop Frame gets even weirder. Playing out like a classic episode of Twilight Zone, Drop Frame doesn’t disappoint.
I give Drop Frame 6 out of 6 reels.
Back to the Drawing Board
Using their newly acquired ability of travel time a group of friends, Hannah(Hannah Riddle), Nicholas(Nicholas Mariano), Justin(Justin Simerly), and James(James Maines) try to change past events for a better future. What actually ends up happening is something more hilarious than heroic.
A sci-fi comedy directed by John Queener & Gabe Hobbs, Back to the Drawing Board is a hilarious look into the world of time travel gone wrong. The comedic writing in Back to the Drawing Board is great with the jokes coming at a fast pace. Even with the unrealistic elements of time travel, the script remains grounded and relatable. Although the delivery and timing could have used some work and we’ve seen time travel done in this way before, Back to the Drawing Board is entertaining nonetheless.
I give Back to the Drawing Board 4 out of 6 reels.
I Will Not Disappear
Alan(Merrit Brakebill, Paul Smith) is reminiscing of past experiences with his wife Victoria(Heather Arnwine, Sarah Smith). In their golden years, Victoria’s memories are slowly disappearing as she struggles to remember the past.
I Will Not Disappear is a heartfelt and emotional drama directed by Jared Sutton. A relatable film for those with loved ones dealing with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, I Will Not Disappear will tug on the heartstrings. The cinematography and direction are on a top-tier level and the acting is phenomenal. While many films of the past have covered this same topic, I Will Not Disappear is certainly among the greats.
I give I Will Not Disappear 5 out of 6 reels.
During a rigorous Zumba session at the local YMCA tragedy strikes when a man goes into cardiac arrest. Never fear as there is somebody magical in the class to save the day.
An absurdist comedy directed by Chris Rodgers, The Workout is an enjoyable film that relies heavily on its core premise. The writing and acting, while not outstanding, are woven expertly to serve this premise. Though not really relatable in any way to everyday life, The Workout is still a fun and entertaining watch.
Molly has a very curious hobby. She obsesses over everything Bigfoot. News clippings, video sightings and first hand accounts swirl around her brain. When she hears that Blue Ridge Adventures is sponsoring a contest in her area, she jumps at the opportunity. Ten thousand dollars to anyone who can find proof that Bigfoot exists. So Molly grabs her somewhat skeptical friend, Devon, and they begin their journey. A journey that will show Molly to always follow her dreams, despite the pitfalls that may occur.
Big and Tall is a heartwarming comedy/adventure short directed by Clint Till. Emi Otsuki plays the smart and spunky Molly. Emi does an outstanding job in playing Molly as an instantly likable character. Emis portrayal would make any girl watching Big and Tall be drawn to Molly’s adventurous spirit. Devin McCracklin also does a fantastic job in a supporting role as Molly’s friend Devon. A good script and a nice comedic performance by Devin develops Devon’s character nicely. He has his own unique personality while also not overshadowing Molly.
The directing is another standout in Big and Tall. Clint Till gets performances from Emi and Devin that, in my opinion, rival other famous films with child actors. IT: Chapter 1 and Stand by Me come to mind. Every shot is purposeful and every scene helped to forward the story in a meaningful way. My only criticism is that it was too short. I realize it’s a short film, but I feel this could be made into a full length feature.
I thought Big and Tall was a great film. A fantastic script delivered by amazing child actors shot by a director that respects his audiences time. It’s comedy and adventure mixed together with a little suspense added in. I recommend this to anyone that enjoys feel good, well made movies.
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 Haller–Silverstone as Mazie are some of the keys that make Sac de Merde shine. Directed by Greg Chwerchak, Sac 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 Carlon, Saul’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.
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.
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.
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 Party, Toasted 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.
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.
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 Wood, American 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 Atkinson, Gauntlet 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.
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 Massimillo, Haircut 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.
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.
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 got some hot pussy . . . what? I’ll suck it. How big is it? Listen, when your dick gets hard does it get hard fast or does it take it awhile to get hard?” This may sound like the banter of your normal run of the mill porn star, but it isn’t. This is the dialogue of an old woman in her small house, as she does puzzles and crochets. A grandma who appears normal but has a very unique job thus creating a juxtaposition that is uproariously hilarious.
Phone Sex Grandmais a comedy short directed by Jack Truman. I enjoyed this film on multiple levels. Opal Dockery was funny in her hilarious portrayal of the vulgar grandma. It was amusing to watch her go about her daily life while also spouting numerous obscenities. Opal does a great job of both making the character endearing with her actions, while also hilarious with the delivery of the script. Opal Dockery also wrote PhoneSex Grandma, which I feel is noteworthy.
The more I watched the more interested I became in knowing more about this woman. I wanted to know how she came into this job and her life leading up to it. On the surface Phone Sex Grandma seems like a straight up comedy but I believe it also has elements of drama. Where she lives and her daily activities make me believe that this job was chosen by necessity and not by desire.
One criticism I do have with Phone Sex Grandma is with one of its greatest attributes, the writing. While very entertaining and hilarious, by the end of the roughly 9 minute runtime my mind was starting to wander. It was a great bit, but if they were to continue with future installments I would need more variety.
That being said, other films by Jack Truman bare the following titles:
Phone Sex Grandma is a hilarious look into the life of a seemingly normal Grandma with a very interesting job choice. It’s both funny and heartfelt when thinking of the old woman and how her life came to be at this point. The acting is outstanding and while the vulgar jokes do get to be a bit much by the end of the film, I still would give this a strong recommendation.