Greetings from the kickass Twisted Terror Convention in Sacremento, where ol’ Sweaty’s bringing you boozy reviews from the front lines. First up we got a series of horror shorts, where some up-and-coming filmmakers are throwing down, kicking ass and splattering us with their creative juices. Hit the jump for my take on these amateurs, and find out whether they gots the chops to play with big kids.
This short, while beautifully shot, was unfortunately nothing new on the horror film front. A cookie-cutter horror trope of “creepy guy with a cabin who kills ladies” is evident from the film’s opening scene. Really, everything is given away as you go – girl meets guy, guy has an unnerving presence, girl begins to warm to him then oops – she finds bodies in his basement. There is literally no suspense throughout, something that this film really needed to make the story work.
On the plus side, the actor playing the killer was very convincing in his role. He and the lead actress both sold their characters, however, they were not enough to save this short from being a dull, run-of-the-mill, murdering psycho cliche. The camerawork was great, the editing and audio work excellent – this film had the feel of a higher budget production, but again, suffered from a lackluster central plot.
Much like the first short, this film is nicely executed on all fronts, again making you feel as though you are watching a full-length, high-budgeted feature. And while this one also suffers from some cliche plot ideas, the pacing is much better and the film is far more interesting overall. In the beginning we are introduced to some ideas but not given too much; the suspense builds well, the characters are interesting and the actors play their roles well. More of a sci-fi story, this one revolves around a woman with a mysterious past, an “incident” that eats away at her, and a reporter looking for the scoop. I would like to note that the actor playing the reporter was fantastic. He steals the show entirely throughout the movie and single-handedly carries the dialogue between the two characters in the diner scenes.
Sadly, all of this nice buildup leads to a very dull, poorly designed monster. The scenes of the victims bathed in blood were excellent and enticing. I wanted a big payoff after all of this, but unfortunately the “experiment” was neither scary nor unique, and resulted in being a check that this movie just could not cash.
In its opening scene, Found looks like another Blair Witch knockoff. But before you have time to yawn and start rooting around for that smartphone, this short throws its cards on the table. Suddenly we’re introduced to a grinning, bespeckled gentleman introducing us to FFI, or the Found Footage Institute. What follows is a smart, funny parody of found footage films, a breath of fresh air for those of us bored to death of the tired, overdone genre.
Done in the style of a seventies instructional film, the jokes come fast and the actors are delightful. You certainly get the impression that the makers of this film had a blast making this. The film itself is short and sweet, never gets dull and the comedy is on point. I should note that I wasn’t the only one impressed; this is the only short of the four shown that was followed by eager applause from the audience. Found was a joy to watch and I hope to see more from this team in the future.
This short is unique in that its director, writer and lead role belong to that of fifteen-year-old John Capizzano. This being his breakout film, Mr. Capizzano shows that he is a very talented young man, yet the movie does suffer from a few flaws. Another cliche plot revolving around a zombie outbreak, we follow four young kids as they escape suburbia and head for the local airport. While the cinematography is very nice and some of the camera shots downright breathtaking, the film suffers from some poor audio work in parts. Some of the dialogue between characters is either too low, or doesn’t match, as in the two people speaking in the same scene sound like they’re being recorded on separate devices.
Audio problems aside, the film’s major flaw is in its acting. Dialogue is delivered flat and emotionless between the two male leads. There is little about these characters that I find interesting, and there is nothing in their banter to tell us who they are or how they feel. Mr. Capizzano, while very talented behind the camera, unfortunately does not bring that talent in front of it.
Overall this movie isn’t bad for what it is and the special effects are surprisingly very well done. The combination of camera work, computer effects and traditional special effects all blend in a very convincing and entertaining way. Considering the age of the creator of this film, it is a very good attempt and I can honestly say he’s one I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Categories: Convention Coverage