Investigation:Death – Reel Review

Gary Cowden (Mike Neider), AKA: The Bicuspid Killer, is the next subject examined in the hit crime series Investigation: Death. In this episode, titled I Dated a Serial Killer, they look into Gary’s techniques as a murderer. He enjoys luring women on dating websites in order to meet with them. Meetings in which Gary has murderous intent. On one date he meets Karen Davies (Dawn Marie Hughes), a woman whom Gary plans to take home. He has noticed that Karen has beautiful teeth. Gary soon finds out, however, that Karen Davies isn’t like his other victims. In fact Karen may be much more disturbed than even Gary himself.

Written and directed by Jeremy Allen, Investigation: Death is a short horror/dark comedy. Leaning into both genres, Investigation: Death will have the viewer grimacing one minute and chuckling with laughter the next. Switching genres is also Investigation: Deaths strongest element. It subverts the audiences expectations of what they are watching, moving from genre to genre with an exceptional directorial hand. The writing is well done with the comedic bits being a highlight. The acting is also noteworthy and the entire cast does an exceptional job. Mike Neider is outstanding as Gary Cowden, a creepy villain that will stick with the viewer long after watching.

Not many criticisms come to mind as I had an entertaining time with this film. With such a creative team it would be interesting, however, to see this idea revisited with a larger budget. This may not be possible, but it would be neat to see Investigation: Death with an overall polish that a larger budget could bring.

Overall Investigation: Death was an awesome watch. Both deeply disturbing and funny it hit all the notes of a good short. Although a little rough around the edges, it was fantastic in terms of direction, writing, and acting. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys serial killer horror and hilarious dark comedy.

I give Investigation: Death 5 out of 6 reels.

https://youtu.be/hZu5c6GRLcA

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….

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!

Suds & Cinema – Grove City – Mini Reel Reviews – Part 1 of 2

Following CinemaSlice’s first ever Suds & Cinema event in Grove City, OH, we just had to write up mini reviews for each official selection that screened! Without further ado, let’s get into these REEL REVIEWS!

Alive

directed by Naim David

A woman(Mary K. Riestenberg) begins to clean up after the gruesome murder of another woman(Celeste Blandon). She quickly finds that there are more important things to worry about than her blood soaked hands.

A very effective horror short in terms of setting and characters. In the short runtime it is well established that something terrifying has happened. The actors do a tremendous job with their movements and mannerisms to help flesh out this feeling of dread. I could have used a more in terms of plot but I understand that this was probably a purposeful choice.

4 out of 6 Reels

Clowns vs. Corn 4 Gold

directed by Matthew MCR Ellison II

The psychedelic trip of a clown whose drink of choice is Corn 4 Gold.

An animated short done in a very unique and creative style. As a piece of art this is a captivating look into a mad alternate universe where everything pulses with a fast and frenetic energy. Looking at it as a film, I would say it’s lacking in plot with no real narrative thread to speak of.

3 out of 6 Reels

Fear, Itself

directed by Alex Caperton

A girl(Rachel Hass) is having a fun and relaxing night eating junk food and playing video games. Fun and relaxing until she hears a sound coming from outside her bedroom window.

This horror short has a nice advancement of creeping dread from beginning to end. I enjoyed the use of video gaming in the film. As a video gamer I use the hobby as a relaxer and can imagine how the girl may have felt before the creepy events begin. Personally, the ending left me on a bit of a cliffhanger and I would have liked to have seen more. A very effective thriller nonetheless.

4 out of 6 Reels 

Haunted House

directed by Michael DeSanto

Amanda(Kenzie Phillips) and Ryan(Charles Wetzel Jr.) have just purchased a new home. Hilarity ensues when they find that the house is very lonely and would like some special favors done in return.

Enjoyable horror comedy that has fun characters and writing that is consistently funny. The writing is effective in that each character is specifically written for. This makes the characters distinctive and they don’t share the same jokes and personalities. I also have to mention the special effects, which were stellar for a low-budget film. My only minor criticism is that the story, while still very funny, was a bit disjointed and felt like we were just moving from scene to scene without much substance. Still a very funny and crowd pleasing film.

5 out of 6 Reels

Jilted Ex

directed by Christian Blackthorne

Sometimes breaking off a relationship can lead to some very dire consequences.

This very short horror clip definitely succeeded in setting a very dark and grim tone right from the start. A very unsettling visual accompanied by a gritty atmosphere made for a nightmarish combo. It seemed to play more like a trailer, however, and I was left wanting more. It would be very interesting to see this idea expanded upon in the future to give the viewer more to sink their teeth into.

3 out of 6 Reels

Not From Around Here

directed by Eric Mishne

Connie(Rachel Luther) and Parker(Colin Luther) are traveling the United States with dreams of traveling the world. Their plans hit a snag when their car breaks down on a lonely stretch of road. They are not concerned until a stranger(Chris Johnson) in a pickup truck pulls up behind them.

This short was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, the characters and especially the film’s conclusion. The plot is straightforward, putting us in a believable scenario that many enjoy doing, traveling the world. It then establishes characters that we can see ourselves as and puts them in a scenario that we all hate, our car breaking down. It wraps up brilliantly with an ending that I won’t give away, but I will say to go back and give this a second watch. Little details will emerge that go unnoticed on the first viewing and the experience will become that much more enjoyable.

6 out of 6 Reels

That’s it for PART1!!! Tune in next time for the mini reel review of the remaining films featured at SUDS & CINEMA – Grove City!

Escape Room Reel Review

6 individuals receive an elaborate puzzle cube that acts as an invitation to participate in an escape room challenge. The premise sounds simple. Find your way through a maze of different rooms. Solve an environmental puzzle to escape each locale and you will receive the grand prize: 10,000 dollars. The participants begin to arrive, although some are reluctant. What transpires next is a descent into madness as the contestants realize this game has higher stakes then what they previously envisioned.

Escape Room is a 2019 film directed by Adam Robitel. Although labeled by some as a horror movie, I would classify this into the thriller/mystery genre. It is similar to past films like Cube, Saw, and Final Destination. In these films there are extreme situations, in which the main characters have to survive. Unlike these films, however, Escape Room leans farther away from the gory and torturous elements.

I enjoyed Escape Room for what it was, an extremely fun and thrilling experience. It offered interesting and varied locations with characters that you genuinely want to see succeed or fail. The story is engaging and easy to follow unlike more cerebral and thought provoking fare such as Hereditary and Suspiria(2018). Just be warned, set your expectations before watching. If you’re the type that enjoys a good dark stout beer and refuses to drink Miller Lite, this movie may not be for you. Escape Room is is definitely horror lite. 

So, maybe you’re looking for a good introduction to horror for some of your friends who refuse to give the genre a shot. Maybe you are a parent that wants to upgrade your children from watching Goosebumps or The House with a Clock in its Walls. Or maybe you just want to watch an exciting thriller without all the gore. If any of these scenarios apply then Escape Room is for you.

4 out of 6 reels.

Schlock du Jour: Haiku Reviews

It’s that time again!

I have culminated from my miscellaneous notes an all new edition of Haiku Reviews, that will hopefully make up for my recent neglect. Included in this entry are:
Day of the Reaper
Devotion
All Strippers Must die
American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice
Devil’s Weekend
Spoiler, I only really loved one of them.
And stay tuned as November is renamed SOVember. Coming soon. Without further ado, haiku.

Day of the Reaper (1984)

Continue reading “Schlock du Jour: Haiku Reviews”

Halloween(2018) Reel Review

Happy Halloween, Slicers.

Mark Kelly here and I’m back with a Reel Review of Halloween(2018). Having enjoyed the Halloween franchise over the past 40 years I was beyond excited hearing about this new installment. Taking place directly after the events of Halloween(1978) this movie opts to forgo the lore built over the years. Although I have enjoyed the previous films it was nice to see some new life breathed into the franchise. So, without further ado, onto the Reel Review of Halloween(2018).

It’s been 40 years since the murder of 4 people occurred in Haddonfield, IL on Halloween. That night the serial killer Micheal Myers was apprehended and has been held in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium ever since. Even though Micheal is in captivity this has provided little comfort for Laurie Strode. That night two of her best friends were murdered. Over the years she has become increasingly paranoid and has developed Agoraphobia. Although this has affected her family and friends it has also made her prepared for if Micheal ever escapes again. Continue reading “Halloween(2018) Reel Review”

A Slice of Fright – Mini Reel Reviews (Pt 1)

Sup, Slicers?

Mark Kelly here– I wasn’t able to attend the festival in person, so I’ve decided to write mini REEL REVIEWS of each film featured at A SLICE OF FRIGHT FILM FESTIVAL.

On Saturday the 13th, at The State Theatre in Bay City, MI, CinemaSlice hosted the first ever, A Slice of Fright Film Festival. Dedicated to the mad and macabre side of storytelling, A Slice of Fright Film Festival consisted of films ranging from the truly disturbing to the darkly hilarious. So strap in because we are coming at you with mini Reel Reviews of all the selections that were shown at the Fest.

ACNE

directed by: Arturo Uspango

A woman (Ashley Daniello) stands in front of her bathroom mirror fretting over her complexion. We soon find out the disturbing places she will go in order to fix her acne problem.

Continue reading “A Slice of Fright – Mini Reel Reviews (Pt 1)”