Category Archives: Short Shorts
If you’ve been a reader of this site for awhile, then there are at least three things you know about me: 1) I love horror 2) I’m a pretty big and pretty dedicated fan of Jeremiah Kipp’s work and 3) I am a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. At least, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my love of Poe before (my memory is just the worst…). I started reading dear old Poe when I was 8 (not sure why my parents allowed that but hey, it gave me my first foray into horror lit and into the horror genre itself!) and “The Cask of Amontillado” was always my favorite. Something about being walled up for eternity just totally creeped me out (that 8 year old imagination probably came into wicked play there…). My friend, Jeremiah, has taken one of Poe’s short stories “Berenice” and turned into an deliciously creepy short film. It’s his little piece of the upcoming horror anthology Creepers, debuting on Blu-ray and VOD on October 7.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, as I was (and thank goodness I didn’t read this one as a child, is all I gotta say), there once was a boy named Edward who had a lovely cousin named Berenice (names updated for our modern audience) who came to live with him and his parents. Edward (Thomas Mendolia) is a bit awkward and obsessive compulsive. He has to turn lamps on a certain number of times and tinkers with small mechanical parts at his desk, alone in his room. Social he is not. Then along comes Berenice (Cheryl Koski) who is everything Edward is not – sociable, graceful, roaming carelessly through life. Except there’s a catch. Isn’t there always? Berenice is ill, dreadfully ill, with a mysterious malaise that we, at best, know causes seizures. And then there’s Edward’s mother (Susan Adriensen), who while being a bit of a stiff actress, manages to be absolutely terrifying. I’ve no idea if she’s in love with her son or just extremely overprotective and overpowering but I would not cross that woman. Edward’s father (Bob Socci) is rather unassuming, although he too comes off as a bit stiff. Edward is eventually told that he must be the one to take care of Berenice as she worsens, which he seems to be fine with as he’s seemingly…charmed by her, shall we say? And from there, I’ll let you either watch the film or go hunt down the story because what happens next is at times gruesome and then creepy.
Is the film good? You betcha. Thomas and Cheryl both embody their characters in such a way that it’s almost painful to watch – which in this particular story is a good thing. I’m far from being squeamish but there were a couple of scenes here that made me squirm just a bit (although it has been a rather long time since I’ve watched anything other than a tv show binge on Netflix…maybe that’s why…). And the ending? It’s not even the ending actually; it’s just the last final shot that got me. *shudders* Pure cinematic horror goodness right there.
If you love Poe, if you’ve liked my reviews of Jeremiah’s other works, if you just like short horror films done well and if you like horror anthologies (cause I hear the other parts are pretty kickawesome as well!), then check out “Berenice” and Creepers on October 7th!
Some of you are familiar with P.j. Starks, some of you are not. But either way, he’s a pretty cool guy who does a lot of fairly cool stuff when it comes to movies. And he just released one of his films online, finally, for the entire world to see. I haven’t had a chance to watch this one yet but hope to soon. It’s only 19 minutes or so, so head on over and check it out!
Simple Mind is a simple, short tale of a man who isn’t entirely what he seems. We follow our main character as he talks with his therapist about his life, his obsession with a woman and how his obsession leads to her murder. Our guy has quite the anything but mundane lifestyle! Or does he….?
Timothy J. Cox is PERFECT as the psycho killer here – I don’t think I’ve seen crazy eyes that good since Jonathan Rhys Meyers. *shivers* I love everything Cox has down here with his character. I went from intrigued to repulsed to piteous all in the span of about seven minutes. And the film, thought it features other characters, is really all about him so kudos for not once letting my attention waver and for keeping me in breathless anticipation of what was going to happen next.
This is definitely an example of indie filmmaking gone terrifically right and storytelling at its best. If you’re a fan of the short film genre, like me, you’re going to LOVE this one.
Anna is another beautifully done cautionary tale about the horrors of sexual assault. Beauty and sexual assault really aren’t words that belong in the same sentence together but much like Noel Brady’s film on the subject matter, this isn’t glorifying or downplaying the subject but rather giving the viewer an inside look at what it does to the mind, body and soul. And perhaps if more people are aware of what it does to you, the less there will be of this crime.
Anna is a young girl who looks to be between the ages of 16-18 who overnight goes from child to woman in the worst of ways. While out at a pub, she meets a charming older fellow who listens to her, seems to understand her then hurts her, immediately taking her innocence from her. Shot in dark tones and starting out with Anna playing with childhood toys, the film is beautifully shot. Almost the entirety is done with a narrative voiceover detailing Anna’s inner thoughts, her process of dealing with what has happened to her while telling us her story and it’s powerful. She goes through the typical stages of sexual assault aftermath including blaming herself and wondering why the other people at the pub didn’t warn her and her story ends in the immediate aftermath.
The film clocks in at just around ten minutes but it is ten minutes well spent. There seems to be an influx of films dealing with this subject matter this year, dealing with it in a way that isn’t often seen. Add this one to the list of those who gets it right.
As before because of the subject matter, I’m closing comments for this post, but keep an eye out for future works by writer/director Eamonn Tutty.
I’m going with the assumption that we’ve all seen V/H/S, the original, right? If not, it’s another found footage, a film within a film (or rather several films within a film) and directed by a handful of different directors. And it did well enough that they came out with V/H/S/2.
I liked the original enough that I jumped at the chance for a screener of the second. And I have to say while I don’t remember tons about the first one, I liked the second one a lot better, especially the outside frame story.
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find a collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance.
I dunno about those “terrifying motives” the blurb from the box mentions but there definitely were a couple of scary moments here, a few creepy moments and a whole helluva lot of bloody ones. And at least one sweet one, which probably wasn’t meant to be sweet but it was. Awwww!!!
Our first VHS tape tells the story of a guy with a robotic eye who sees dead people (typical really) and while fun, didn’t do too much for me. The second was, I believe, the zombie one which was the one that had the sweet moment (because zombies just want to be people too y’all!!!). That was also one of the more fun ones because of the way it’s filmed – we see everything from a zombie’s point of view. Def nice. And then we had the one about the cult, which may have been the creepiest but was, in my opinion, the most boring. Full of blood and ick but somehow it still couldn’t quite capture my attention (is this a side effect of getting old???? :( ). And the last was the alien one which was actually super fun and possibly my favorite. Just the action in that one and the energy and oh, the dog, the wee little dog!
Do you need to own V/H/S/2? No. Should you watch it? Def.
What do you get when you’ve got a wannabe vampire and an actual vampire living together? Well, in episode 2 of Vampz! you get a dead, coked up vampire hunter. Whoopsies! Not to mention a very drunk little brother who stumbles upon the scene.
I am totes digging on this web series – it’s fun, it’s quirky and it’s got so many things I love (like vampires!). Plus the special effects are pretty groovy for a (I’m assuming) lo-budget production. There’s not a ton of special effects, no over the top CGI or anything but the few they use feel very organic and really enhance the plot. Major kudos for that, guys.
I also really, really love the character of Ashlee (not to mention the actress that plays her). She’s adorable (like me! ;)). All the characters are fun but she’s definitely my fave.
I’m not sure how many more episodes are in this season (I know 3 is out and 4 is about to hit the net) but I’m excited and I really hope there’s a second season as well. Hmmm…I wonder if there will be new characters? Or bit parts? Ahem…. ;)
Check out Episode 2 in all it’s glory, y’all and let me know if you’re digging it as much as I am!
This was originally posted on Rogue Cinema back in February but now that the rest of the series has been going up, I’m reviewing the whole thing here, episode by episode. To read the original, go here!
VAMPZ!, written by Omar Attia and Lenny Buccellato, is about the supernatural hijinks & misadventures of Simone, a “wannabe vampire” and her ditzy cheerleader roomie, Ashlee. Described on their Facebook page as “a horror comedy webisode series that could be described as Fright Night meets Three’s Company (without even a whiff of Twilight)”, I’d say it’s exactly that (although Twilight is mentioned though only in mocking ;)).
Currently, there’s only the first episode of this web series up on YouTube and it starts out strong with Simone interviewing several people as potential roommates. As the view switches from potential roommate to potential roommate, their hilarious stories of roommates past and their interests (really? Tentacle porn??) overlap to create a hysterical montage that really drives home the fact that finding someone to live with is scary business. To add to that scariness, when the three potentials say to Simone, “Gee, you kind of look like a vampire…” she responds with, “I AM a vampire! Duh!”. Oh Simone, with your black hair and gothy ways…we’ll see how far that gets you in life…
After another day of hapless searching, Simone’s annoying fraternal twin brother comes over to cheer her up. Or something. Then arrives, Ashlee, who can best be described as one of those annoyingly cheerful, ditzy cheerleader girls that you always kind of wanted to kick in high school. Simone is full of “No effing way!” till her brother points out that she’s already said no to 30 something other people and can’t pay the rent herself. With a sigh of disgust, Simone agrees to let Ashlee move in.
So what happens next? Oh, but that’s much too fun to give away, dear reader, so you’ll simply have to watch for yourself. This is exactly the kind of web series I love – silly, irreverent and with a touch of darkness. The script is fun and I love the way this is shot – not sure what kind of camera they used but there’s a blur around the edges that makes it all a little dreamy (oh and speaking of dreams, wait till you see the dream sequence in this one. Ha!). All the actors do a fine job with their parts with the stand out being Louis Bacigalup as Simone’s annoying brother (seriously I kinda wanna give the guy a good kick to the shins).
So head on over to Youtube and check them out!
About a year ago, I reviewed a film for Rogue Cinema, that I absolutely adored called “True-D”, by an Irish director named Noel Brady. In it, people put on “True-D” glasses instead of “3-D” and are then able to see the histories of the people around them such as the bum on the street, the lady that is a bitch to everyone, etc. It was such a different sort of film than what typically comes around and I loved its message and its uniqueness. Not too long ago…okay, it was actually a couple of months ago but due to my schedule, I wasn’t able to get around to it till now and I truly apologize, Noel!…Noel sent me his latest film, “Alicia’s Mask”. This is a really hard film for me to review and I’m not sure what the best way to go about saying what I need to without devolving into something off-film-topic is, so bear with me. I’m going to say this first of all – this film is about rape so if that is something you’re not comfortable with or if it’s a trigger for you, you might not want to continue, okay?
Powerful. Beautiful. Raw. Those are the first three words that came to mind after I watched this for the first time. This film packs a hell of a punch in 6 minutes. I had to take a few days after to step away from the film and what it personally brought me and then come back to it again. So I re-watched it this morning and had the exact same reaction as the first time around. I think you know you have a winner when you can elicit an emotional reaction so profound that it takes days to process.
Alicia is making an introduction video for her new online dating profile. As the film starts we see her curling her hair, putting on makeup, prettying herself up. On the flip side we see an older man in front of a computer, searching for dating sites. Then Alicia sits to start filming. She starts with the norm – “Hi, I’m Alicia. I’m a Pisces and I love long walks in the rain.”, only to be interrupted by a phone call from a friend. We hear her reassuring her friend that yes, she is making the video now and yes, she is still up for that party later tonight. It’s then we notice the bottle of wine on the table – perhaps our Alicia is a wee bit nervous about making this video? It would seem so because next we see her start again…and again…and again…only to never get by the words “Hi, I’m Alicia and I’m a Pisces.” before breaking into tears and going back to the table for more wine…and then pills…And on the flip side we see the older man, viewing her video…then we see Alicia having flashbacks, fuzzy and unclear so we only get a hint of what’s happening…till finally Alicia starts filming again with the words, “My name is Alicia Heart and I was raped a year ago today.” And on the flip side we realize that the older man is a cop, a detective. And not long after that the film ends with a shot of an arrest warrant. There is more Alicia says after she states her name and what happened to her. It’s only about two lines and that’s where more than half the emotional impact comes from.
The film is beautiful, not just in how it was shot but for how it handles this girl’s plight. The way she breaks down over and over again with the words, “I’m Alicia and I’m a Pisces…” is heartbreaking and too real, too raw, too honest. If you’ve been her and you’re watching, you know. You know exactly what she’s feeling, what she’s thinking – the pain captured here is accurate. And if you don’t know, I imagine you’ll have a very good idea after this. The use of black and white helps immensely, I feel that color would have just distracted from the story (though the flashbacks have hints of color, hints of red in particular that add another layer to the beauty and pain).
I can’t praise Doey Mulligan enough for her portrayal of Alicia. She is utterly pitch perfect – vulnerable and lovely. And high praise for Noel Brady here – he’s taken a subject matter that is difficult, controversial and so much more and handled it with aplomb and a delicate touch. There’s nothing graphic to be seen here. It’s simply a girl trying to move past a trauma who is drowning in the murky waters, calling out for help before it’s too late. And it’s the simplicity here that hurts the most.
“Alicia’s Mask” is currently on the festival circuit so it’s not out for public consumption just yet but I do highly recommend it.
Also you’ll notice comments are closed, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’m doing that due to the subject matter. It’s been a hot topic for debate lately and more importantly, it’s personal for me, so comments are just not something I want to deal with. Sorry, guys. Comments will be back on for Bad Milo, coming up next!
If you’re a long time reader of this site, then you’ve heard me mention Jeremiah Kipp a few times. His short films were one of the first things I ever reviewed here and I’ve also interviewed him for Rogue Cinema. I also may or may not have repeatedly begged him to cast me in something because I really love his work and I may or may not have completely embarrassed myself in doing so….ahem…anyway…. ;)
The latest thing he’s working on is something that is very exciting for me not only because it’s a horror thing but also because in the “About” video on Indiegogo they mention Hansel & Gretel which means it’s kind of a horror/fairy tale mesh which totally hits my sweet spot cause we all know how I feel about those two things! I mean, we do all know, right? I have made that pretty clear on this site, right? *giggles*
Anyway, they ARE running a campaign on Indiegogo so if you are so inclined, hit them up with a couple of bucks or if you have a friend you think would dig on this, give them the heads up. Because if this doesn’t get made, I might cry. :( You wouldn’t want to see me cry would you???
Coming Up Next on Cinema Schminema: Bad Milo, The American Scream, Velvet Elvis, interviews and more!