Short Film Review: Out of the Box (2015)

Horror Comedy, Short Film Review

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”Out of the Box” is a short student film from Canadian monster enthusiast and future horror bright spark Sebastien Godin, but if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d just have assumed it was a regular short film from an independent horror filmmaker.

The story revolves around 2 students who volunteer to take part in a psychological experiment for a food coupon.  All they are a required to do is sit in a room until one of them caves and opens a box, which sits in the middle of the floor minding its own business.  With starvation starting to kick in, one of them finally gives up and finds out the hard way that hunger is the least of his problems.

In 1996, psychology professor Roy Baumeister conducted an evil experiment where he used students desire to eat to deplete their willpower. In this case, the allure of chocolate was enough to make them lose control; the cruel part was they were given radish instead.  ”Out of the Box” contains another experiment where the willpower of hungry students is tested; only instead of chocolate the seduction lies in the mystery of a box, and the repercussion for giving into your appetite is truly sinister – even more sinister than radish.

What I liked most about ”Out of the Box” was the 2 lead characters: Brian and Vince, played by Ethan Dalton Clifford and Fabio Lopez, respectively. Both characters are hilarious in their own unique way:  Vince is the more outgoing and desperate – and he’s not very smart.  Brian is more reserved and dry, providing a perfect counterbalance to Vince’s hyperactivity.  The script is witty, providing them both with some great dialogue to work with.  Furthermore, their interactions are constantly entertaining: whether it’s discussing the gender of author Jules Verne or grappling over Granola Bars, there is never a dull moment between them.  Spending 12 boring hours in a room starving as part of corrupt experiment is something we all have to go through at some point in our academic lives.  Their experience isn’t like anybody else’s.

I said earlier that Godin was a ”future horror bright spark”, and I genuinely do believe that.  Having known him for some time now, I’m aware of how creative he is.  Not only are his ideas fun as shown here, but he appears to be an accomplished filmmaker.  ”Out of the Box” is short, but it’s well shot, easy on the eyes and boasts some fantastic lighting, special effects and gross out make-up.  I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll make movies one day that a lot of horror fans will love.

Another thing I loved about ”Out of the Box” was the music.  It was quirky, offbeat and fun and really set the tone for the entire film, which can also be summed up as a whole with these adjectives.  If you want to see it for yourself, let me know and I’ll arrange it.  8/10

Short Film Review: A Black Heart In White Hell (2015)

Arthouse, Extreme Horror, Horror, Short Film Review

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”A Black Heart In White Hell” is the brand new short film from restless indie horror director Dustin Mills and Crumpleshack Films.  If you aren’t aware of Dustin’s work yet then you’re missing out on one of the most exciting and hard working independent filmmakers working today, whose body of work is of a consistent level of high quality and refreshingly original.  ”A Black Heart In White Hell” sees Dustin in full experimental mode, dragging the viewer into hell with the films victim and – if you dare stick around – forcing us to endure her plight with her.

”Not Sorry” are the words The Woman (Reagan Root) writes on the mirror before she takes her own life in the bath tub, assuming that she’s leaving this world unpunished for crimes we later learn she committed.  However – when she wakes up in a white room, a series of events unfold which force her to face the consequences of her sins.  What ensues is a bloody nightmare involving monsters and tormenting imagery as she’s punished in some gross, unsettling ways.

There were 2 movies which sprung to mind when watching ”A Black Heart In White Hell”: ”Eraserhead (1977)” and ”Begotten (1990)”.  My comparison is not based on the content contained within either of those movies, as they’re both completely different; what I’m getting at is they both share an ability to evoke a strong visceral reaction and psychologically pummel your senses at the same time.  ”A Black Heart In White Hell”, like those 2 movies, unsettled me through imagery, sound and it’s own original content.  I guess another comparison to those movies you could make is that it’s like nothing else out there, but that’s always been the case with Mills’ work anyway.  However, Lynch and Merhige’s movies are ugly experiences which suffer from too much self-indulgence.  ”A Black Heart In White Hell” is a visually stunning spectacle to look at, with an interesting story and additional fun factor.  Sure, it’s gross and distressing, but it’s also highly enjoyable and oozing with immediate rewatch value.

The film contains absolutely no dialogue, but the story is cohesive:  The nightmares of the lead and her crimes appearing on a television screen give us all of the information we need to understand what’s going on and why she’s being punished.  Credit must be given to Reagan Root for being able to portray a convincing character through actions, expression and body language alone.  She’d still be a joy to watch even if she wasn’t always naked.  The supporting cast consist of Dave Parker (with the awesome Youtube channel), Brandon Salkil and Jeremy Ryan, who serve as a reminder of why her soul is being ripped apart.

”A Black Heart In White Hell” is Mills’ best work to date and continues to showcase the evolution of a boundary pushing auteur making a name for himself in the world of underground cinema.  You can pick this up along with Dustin’s other movies over at Dustin Mills Productions, or stream it on VOD for pocket change.  Not only would you be supporting indie film by checking it out; you’d be treating yourself to some unique, original horror.

Writer & Director: Dustin Mills

Starring: Reagan Root, Dave Parker, Brandon Salkil, Jeremy Ryan

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 30 min

Short Film Review: Steps (2015)

Arthouse, Comedy, Short Film Review

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Steps, a self-proclaimed ”staircase fetish art film”, is the latest short from Floridan avant-garde sleaze maestro Tyler Hosley; a polarizing filmmaker if there ever was one.  With a creative thought process that operates in defiance of good taste and normalcy, Hosley’s shorts up until now have been strange beasts to say the least, and you’ll either want to run from these beasts as fast as you can or stay and pet them.  With Steps, he’s delivered a delightfully perverse oddity of escalator erotica that’ll make you laugh as much as it’ll make you feel weird about watching it.  That being said, it might just motivate you to rub your genitalia all over a staircase, like you’ve always wanted to do.

Tyler’s shorts are all zero budget, homemade productions, but they demonstrate the raw potential of a filmmaker with unique ideas who deserve a chance to work with a substantial budget and show what he can really do. Steps is my favorite one yet and I hope it either entertains you as much as it did me.  Check it out below.  7/10

Written & Directed By:

Tyler Hosley

Starring:

Tyler Hosley, Andrea Hosley

Genre:

Comedy, Surreal

Short Film Review: Kung Fury (2015)

Comedy, Sci-Fi, Short Film Review

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Struck by lightning, bitten by a cobra; Kung Fury might just be the new 80’s icon of the 21st century.  Born from a fake trailer created by Swedish animation whizkid David Sandberg that went viral, a Kickstarter campaign would raise triple the required funds, and thus, the epic short film I am reviewing became a reality that would go on to take the Cannes Film Festival by storm.

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Kung Fury is a love letter to the 80’s, first and foremost.  Much in the same way Astron-6’s masterpiece Manborg is; a movie Kung Fury will inevitably draw comparisons to.  Inspired by everything from Saturday morning cartoons, Cannon Films, arcade video games and B movies, Kung Fury is a live action scrap book of 80’s pop culture nostalgia, brought to life in a basement of a little house in Sweden.

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Kung Fury is the story of a kung fu cop of the same name, who must travel back in time to put a stop to the ”Kung Fuhrer” Adolf Hitler before he comes to the present to usher in a Third Reich.  Along the way we meet Norse gods, viking babes with guns, T-Rex’s, killer arcade machines and Fury’s partner, Triceracop – a half man/dinosaur police officer.  In true 80’s style, we’re naturally treated to a rocking 80’s electronic soundtrack composed in retro Heaven by mystical synth Gods.

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Kung Fury is played by David Sandberg, whose deadpan delivery of cheesy one liners makes him a caricature of video store action heroes of yesteryear.  As a filmmaker he’s brimming with so much imagination and so many ideas it’s surprising he doesn’t have leftovers pouring from his nostrils and ears.  This is a Jack of All Trades to say the least and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life as one of his obsessed fanboys.

Don’t take my word for it though.  Check it out for yourself.  It’s FREE!

Short Film Review: Wasted (2015)

Comedy, Horror, Short Film Review

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Cinecoup is a Canadian project where independent filmmakers submit 60 second trailers for a chance to win 1 million dollars to make a full feature, and have it released at Cinecoup theatres across the country.  And the cool thing about it is that, we, the fans, get to take part and dictate the voting  It’s thanks to Cinecoup we have Wolfcop in our lives; but what will be the next cult classic in the making?

One of the entries in this years contest is Wasted, a slacker comedy with zombies.  It revolves around a group of deadbeat friends as they drink terrible Canadian beer, smoke the drugs and discuss how they’d survive a zombie apocalypse.  The star of the show is Mark, a stoned budding sociopath, who is not only convinced the zombie apocalypse is going to happen, but he’s actually looking forward to it.  His friends – Sid, Steve and Anthony – are a little more grounded (and sober) than Mark, but not nearly as equipped.

In order to survive the end of mankind as they know it, a Zombie Survival Kit is a necessity; this kit has to include essential items such as a first aid kit, with bandages, rubbing alcohol and so on.  Flash lights are also a requirement; as well as matches for light, cooking and smoking Mary Jane.  But, the most important item of all is condoms, just in case you bump into a hot survivor – or decide to have sex with the undead.  Personally, I’d take either at this point.

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Mark also plans to drive around with an AK47, a chainsaw and a samurai sword in the trunk of his car, which makes sense since he’s the weapons and hunting expert of the group.  Anthony, on the other hand will be their designated doctor because he ”looks like one”. due to him being Asian.  Moreover, Steve will need to learn to become a mechanic, and from what we see of him fixing cars in their hypothetical discussion, he’ll need to become a better one, should an outbreak happen.  Lastly, they’d need a builder, which would be Sid’s duty, and like his friends, he’s a fumbling mess of a man.

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Their discussion is accompanied by animated diagrams of their plan, and live action scenes of their potential scenarios.  There’s ample amounts of blood, explosions and walking undead to wet your appetite, but it’s the relationship between the characters that makes it engaging.  They’re a loveable bunch of goons who seem to have it barely figured out.

I was treated to an exclusive of the 12 minute short film, which will hopefully light up many a festival in 2015, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The strength is in the characters: you could watch an entire movie of these guys just hanging out, getting drunk and talking nonsense and it’d be fantastic.  I don’t know what they put in the beer over in Canada, but whatever the magic ingredient is, it’s inspired some good humoured genre pictures the past few years, and I have no doubt in my mind the guys at Retro Grave Productions will make many valuable contributions in the future.  Just like the act of getting intoxicated, Wasted is mindless fun, filled with laughs, joy and imminent violence.  8/10

For more information, you can follow Wasted on Twitter and Facebook.  And if you like what you see from the trailer, pop on over to Cinecoup.

Written & Directed By:

Satheesan Nagenthiram

Starring:

Darrin Drugan, Steve Kasan, Samuel Lin, Satheesan Nagenthiram

Genre:

Comedy, Horror

Running Time:

12 min

Short Film Review: Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer: Day 1

Horror, Short Film Review

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Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer has enjoyed some moderate success on the festival circuit; having initially finished in the top 3 of the 2013 Scream Factory Competition, it’s went on to receive considerable acclaim, and the upcoming follow-up, Day 57, has already played before a sold out crowd back in October at the Horrible Imaginings Horror Film Festival in California.  At this time of writing, it is currently an entry in the Rue Morgue sponsored Horror Block Monstrous Movie Contest awaiting the results, but regardless of whether it wins or not, Carl Smith and Jeffrey McLaurin can be proud of their work.  This is going to bring a lot of smiles to the faces of horror fans.

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 Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer: Day 1 is the first of a prospective web series chronicling the adventures of groups of kids as they try to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Each episode will be based on a different day of the outbreak, and will follow a different group of kids every time.  During Day 1, we follow a group of kids as the outbreak is happening and watch them transform from Little Rascals to bat-wielding, brain bashing bad asses.  It’s The Sandlot meets Dawn of the Dead – and yes, it is as good as it sounds.

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Personally, I love movies where children are heroes; and I love movies where children get massacred.  Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer has children smashing zombie children with bats in a playground, so what’s not to love?  We don’t get a lot of horror adventures in this day and age where the kids are heroes, never mind the monsters, so it’s a pleasant change of scenery to see a universe without adults where the brats can run amok.

The performances from the young actors are fantastic and adorable.  Not only is it obvious that everyone involved is having fun, but the kids are very talented and I predict we’ll be seeing some of them crop up in movies and TV in the future.  There’s one iffy moment where a kid doesn’t react to finding his mother dead; but maybe he hated her so it’s not important.

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With more episodes on the horizon and a comic book companion, Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer has a bright future and long may it continue.  Zombies have been done to death in horror, but every so often they come along and bite you in the good way again – like a love bite.  I am happy to report that Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer is a hicky to be worn proudly without a scarf.  This has the potential to be an excellent ongoing adventure, full of exuberant charm and children being harmed. You can watch Day 1 below, so check it out, give it a like and a share, and support independent film.  8/10

Also be sure to follow on that Twitter and like on the Facebook

Written & Directed By:

Jeffrey McLaurin & Carl Smith

Starring:

Gabe Krut, Jourdan Jackson, Wyatt Chapman, Marco Baroudi, Tyler Desharnais

Genre:

Horror

Running Time:

10 min