Zach Evans is attending a panel at the 2019 Festival of Play. The topic of discussion is Ziggo Mania 5, a video game that Zach adores. One of the panelists is Jesse Blackwell, who is the lead programmer on the project. Once Zach gets a chance to ask some questions he finds out from Jesse some unfortunate news about Ziggo Mania. News that will light a spark within Zach and lead to a series of sinister events. Jesse is now in danger and will have to use all his unique skills to save himself.
From Mania to Obsession is a short suspense/thriller directed by Andrew Brantley and Kevin Shirka. It stars Kevin Shirka as Zach Evans and Randall Williams as Jesse Blackwell. From Mania to Obsession is a very enjoyable film on multiple levels. One thing that stood out for me was the overall concept of the movie. Another was this concepts execution in terms of the escalating suspense. Similar to Stephen KingsMisery, this film tells of one individuals demented fixation on an individual. In this case, Zach Evans compulsion for Jesse Blackwell. Unique to From Mania to Obsession is the use of modern technologies, which makes the story more relatable. Kevin Shirka does a great job in taking this concept and applying it to the actions and mannerisms of Zach. It’s very entertaining watching Zach steadily descend into madness throughout the film.
A criticism I have with From Mania to Obsession is with using Ziggo Mania 5 throughout the short. Although it was creative using a video game that appears exclusively made for the film, Ziggo Mania 5s quality didn’t fit with the story. Ziggo Mania 5 looks like a mobile game, something that would appeal to younger children. As a gamer I have to admit this threw me off a bit. A non-gamer, however, probably wouldn’t notice. I feel this could have been fixed by providing a more realistic motivation for Zach’s anger. One suggestion could be that Ziggo Mania 5 is now introducing micro transactions. Another could be that the game has taken a dramatically deep dip in quality.
From Mania to Obsession is full of great suspenseful moments. The modern take on the concept is excellent and Kevin’s portrayal of Zach is frightening. The quality of Ziggo Mania 5 is a little confusing, however, which is distracting. I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys thrillers that don’t resort to jump scares or excessive violence.
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.
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.
Nightis a thriller/horror film written and directed by Nicholas Micheal Jacobs. Night is an interesting study into the mind of a deranged man. This man is Adam Audrey, acted by Nicholas Micheal Jacobs. Nicholas does a great job convincing us that Adam is a dangerous person with sociopathic tendencies. His victim is Judy Stern, played by Gianna Jacobs. Gianna 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.
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.
Mark Kelly here and I’m back with another Reel Review. I’ll be reviewing the crime documentary The Monster with 21 Faces (かい人21面相) , directed by MichaelWelborn. The film recently had its world premiere at CinemaSlice.coms A Slice of Fright film festival. The movie is part one of an in depth look at the real life incidents surrounding a wealthy Japanese businessman. It details the attack on his career, friends, and family by an unknown assailant calling himself the monster with 21 faces.
In Japan during the spring of 1984 president of Hashiba Homegoods, Sotara Hashiba(BruceFalcon), is taking a shower at his home one evening. Unbeknownst to him, 3 individuals dressed in dark clothes and white masks have broke into his residence. They have tied up his wife and daughter and are planning to kidnap Hashiba himself. What follows is a decent into mayhem and mystery. Hashiba struggles to protect everything and everyone he holds dear against multiple unknown attacks.
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”.
In this episode, Justin talks to director Michael Welborn about his new film Darkling, being an independent filmmaker, and other random things that popped into Justin’s head (as he tends to do). Two track from the film’s composer, Austin Michael aka AVZTN, close out the episode. We hope you enjoy it, see you again in about 2 weeks! Continue reading “The SliceCast – Michael Welborn”→
Time to begin the Hell’s Half Mile with the opening film of the fest, a dramatic murder mystery that may be a good movie hidden amongst some glaring issues.
“The Scent of Rain and Lightning” tells the tale of Jody, a woman dealing with the death of her parents as a child. We soon find out that the man convicted of the crime, Billy, is being released from prison on a technicality. It’s then that things begin to unravel in the small rural community and secrets are revealed that may prove the wrong man was sent to prison.