Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sunday Shorts: UNWIND

I'm completely unfamiliar with the YA novel this short is based on, but it appears to be absolutely terrifying. Is this what the kids are reading these days? What happened to stories about enrolling in schools of wizardry or falling in love with sparkly vampires who practice abstinence before marriage? Wow, that sounds incredibly cheesy when you say it out loud...

A few days back, I tweeted a link to an article about the importance of tension on page one.  Without a doubt, Unwind easily qualifies as Exhibit A. It's probably the most unnerving short I've posted. What's especially interesting here is that it's all about what we don't see, but hear. Our imagination, the best and cheapest special effect, does all the heavy lifting. Not a spec of blood or gore to be found. I love how the nurse's soothing voice contrasts with the sound of the procedure in the background.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Sunday Shorts: Electrogenesis

The creators of these fan films often show more passion and understanding of the material than the soulless corporations that own them.  Electrogenesis starts off slow but finishes with a nice payoff. Given the success of a teen superhero like Spider-Man, I'm a little surprised DC/Warner Bros. hasn't done more with Static. Seems like a low-risk, medium/high reward property. Perhaps the rumors about a Static Shock web series with Jaden Smith are a way to test the waters...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Shorts: It's Not You, It's Me

This short from Matt Spicer just goes to show how it's possible to find the humor in a little death and murder.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Shorts: Surveillance

I'm not a huge fan of found footage films but this one really caught my eye. Surveillance manages to tell  a pretty compelling story story in under 3 minutes, which is a lot tougher than it sounds. I come across so many scenes and shorts that take forever to set up and their payoffs are rarely worthwhile. This starts as late as possible in the story and gets right to the point...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sunday Shorts: Controller

This whole hard drive crashing thing has been quite the misadventure. I'm still kicking myself for not having monthly backups. My drafts are so far behind, it's unlikely I'll have anything ready for the upcoming contest deadlines. Luckily, I keep a decent amount of handwritten notes.  It'll be a chore but not an impossible one. I also smartened up and got myself a dropbox account.

Anyway, this week's short comes from writer/directer Saman Kesh. It's a pretty ambitious 8 minutes of sci-fi, action, and romance. The video game elements remind me of Scott Pilgrim. According to deadline, Fox plans to turn it into a feature. That might prove to be an enormous challenge. Bigger isn't always better...

BTW, Kesh is also set to direct the Cube remake.


Sunday, May 03, 2015

Sunday Shorts: The Flying Man

Not quite back to speed after my hard drive crashed, but almost there. I'm kicking off a superhero-themed week with this short from Marcus Alqueres. A little light on plot but it sure is pretty...

Hopefully, I'll get a chance to post some thoughts on recent superhero fare like Daredevil and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Shorts: a function 이계도함수

Directed by Hyunsoo Lee, a function takes that all-too-familiar test-taking anxiety and turns it into a nightmarish short. I love the way it keeps the tension with just a bit of PG-13 violence, but lays out the potential for something much worse. A little blood and gore can go a long way.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sunday Shorts: ReCURSION

ReCURSION from NinjaSticks on Vimeo.

'Recursion' is the modern-day time-travel adventure of Sherwin, a best man who travels back in time after losing a wedding ring.

It usually takes me a while to find a noteworthy selection for the Sunday Shorts but this one fell right into my lap (via recent twitter follower @Recursionfilm).

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I wish there was a way to send a print of David Hayter’s Wolves back to the 80s. It would fit right in with stuff like Fright Night, Lost Boys and Teen Wolf. Not as endearing as those movies, but the throwback feel is pretty strong. Alas, Amazon hasn't invented time travel shipping (yet), so I’ll have to judge it as a 21st century creation.

Underneath all the fangs and hair, Wolves is your basic coming of age story. A teen discovers that he’s not like the other kids, so after some violent episodes, he sets out on a journey to find himself. Instead of running into Professor X and his School for Gifted Youngsters, Cayden (Lucas Till) winds up in the quaint town of Lupine Ridge. (Get it?) It’s not long before hijinks ensue...

The usual characters archetypes are front and center: The Wise Sage (Stephen McHattie), The Love Interest (Merritt Patterson), and The Antagonist (Jason “Aquaman” Momoa).

As much as I like the spirit of these genre mashups, I have to admit, they’re hit or (mostly) miss with audiences. It gets even worse when werewolves are the main attraction.

Jeff Goldsmith's Q&A podcast has a really good interview with Hayter here.

As the writer of X-Men, X2, and Watchmen, Hayter obviously knows his way around action-oriented stories about people with special abilities. Clearly, Wolves was originally envisioned as a bigger story but was scaled back because of budgetary constraints.  The movie does a great job with the werewolf design -- kind of looks like Beast from the X-Men movies. It even has some clever cheats to explain why everyone doesn’t turn into a werewolf, too damn expensive otherwise.

Good cast, good creature design, so what’s the problem? Wolves is an $18-20 million dollar movie and at the end of the day, this:

Is going to have a hard time trying to compete with this:

(I couldn't find a good clip from X-Men or X2.)

A low budget movie like Wolves needed to focus more on character development, suspense, and horror to make up for the lack of spectacle. There's nothing remarkable or especially different about this take on the werewolf genre. Aside from a few twists, it all feels very, very familiar. Those 80s movies I mentioned had other things going for them.

I'm still holding out hope that we'll see a wildly successful werewolf movie at the box office... eventually. It's been rough for a while now. I have little faith in Universal's plan to relaunch their iconic horror monsters by focusing on action/adventure rather than horror -- I'll get into Dracula Untold later.

One final complaint: the title. Could it be any more generic?


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Shorts: REALM

This short introduces a clever wrinkle on your basic exorcism story. In fact, it was so clever that the feature length version of the script, written by Rebecca Sonnenshine, was purchased by Relativity Studios in a mid-six-figure deal. Flashy shorts often generate a tremendous amount of buzz that tends to go nowhere, but I think Realm stands a decent chance of getting made. It shouldn't be that expensive to produce, and with the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises winding down, this might be the perfect time for a new butt-kicking, female protagonist to emerge and snatch action/horror genre crown.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Shorts: DERAILED

Paris is known as the city of love and lights, but after viewing this short from Nicolas Simonin, they're not too shabby in the horror department either.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Shorts: WEREWOLVES

Hadn't planned on showcasing back to back werewolf shorts but since I'm going to be blogging about some recent feature length films (Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf, Wolves), it seemed appropriate. The comedy is also a nice change of pace from the other stuff I've posted.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Powers: A PlayStation Original Series | Episode 1

Set in a world where humans and super heroes co-exist, a homicide detective, who had his own powers taken from him, investigates crimes involving superhumans along with his partner.

The first episode of the graphic novel adaptation is up on youtube. I believe this was in development at FX for while but it never got past the pilot. While I'm surprised it's coming from the Playstation Network, I really shouldn't be. Everyone's trying to get into the content business these days. I hear has stuff in the works -- seriously.

Pacing seemed a little off to me but pilots are difficult beasts so stuff like that happens. Reminds me of  a grittier Heroes. Sharlto Copley and Susan Heyward work well off each other as the leads. The budget is supposedly comparable to House of Cards, Breaking Bad, and Orange is the New Black. However, last time I checked, characters weren't flying, teleporting, or firing energy blasts on those shows. Something to keep an eye on over the 10 episode run. You have wonder how long this superhero bubble will last but with stuff like this and the upcoming Daredevil series on Netflix, I reckon it might be a while longer...

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Sunday Shorts: LUNA

This film from writer/director Antonio Perez won Best Short at Screamfest a few years back. The minimal dialogue really complements the escalating tension. Would love to see it as a feature.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday Shorts: Attic Panic

Here's another short from from David F. Sanberg and Lotta Losten. Unlike See You Soon, this runs longer than 15 seconds. What I like here is the quick set up and the lack of dialogue. The ending isn't too hard to figure out, but it's still satisfying.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Shorts: No mires ahí / Don't look there

Marta goes back to her mother’s house to stay a few days with her little sister. The girl’s weird behavior and the latent memory of a sad event will lead Marta to suspect that the house is being haunted by an uncanny presence.

I usually post shorts under 10 minutes because they tend to drag after that, but I like the atmosphere created by director Daniel Romero. It's also nice to see a ghost story with some character depth.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Shorts: BREATHE

This short from Toby Meakins is a perfect example of how the best twists are the ones we should have seen coming.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Sunday Shorts: 12:01 PM

I was stumped on what to post, but then I remembered it was Groundhog Day and went with this classic time-loop short.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

#goodreads - Annabelle

Horrorlair has the script here.

This prequel/spin-off of The Conjuring wasn't exactly on my must-see list for 2014 because I just don't find most creepy doll stories all that creepy. However, there are a few exceptions...

What I like here is the ambiguity for most of the story. Is he slowly going insane or is that cute, plastic doll harboring a malevolent entity?

Anyway, back to Annabelle, what sane person would want this in their home?

At least Tina looked like something a kid might want...

 Take a look at the "real" Annabelle:

Still there? Hope I didn't cause any sudden heart attacks. Given the right scenario, I can see how a Raggedy Ann doll with big eyes and a sweet smile could freak some people out-- especially those with coulrophobia. I thought Annabelle's Hollywood makeover seemed too much of a cliche, but audiences obviously disagreed.

When you say possessed doll, this guy usually comes to mind:

From what I gather, Annabelle doesn't go this route, so I'm curious to see how they pulled it off...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Shorts: He Took His Skin Off For Me

He Took His Skin Off For Me from Ben Aston on Vimeo.

The story of a man who takes his skin off for his girlfriend, and why it probably wasn't the best idea...

A little late with this one-- busy prepping for #Snowmageddon2015. Despite the title and the visuals, I wouldn't rush to label "He Took His Skin Off For Me" as horror. Director Ben Aston describes it as a fairytale, which I guess makes sense, but without the typical fairytale ending...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Shorts: ABE

Sure, we've seen this scenario a zillion times but the sci-fi angle makes it a bit fresher. Not too hard to imagine it as a feature length film.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Shorts: Cargo

We're used to seeing copious amounts of brains, blood, and intestines in zombie flicks, but it's not often you come across one with a lot of heart....

Think I got something in my eye...

Damn allergies...

Friday, January 09, 2015

12 Monkeys (SyFy) Preview

While it doesn't premiere until next week, SyFy has put the first nine minutes of 12 Monkeys online. Not enough to praise or condemn, but just the right amount to pique your interest. So far, the biggest departure from the 1995 Terry Gilliam film is the fact that there's no beating around the bush about Cole being from the future. Unless he's some kind of psychotic magician, it would be pretty difficult to explain away the watch and the whole vanishing right in front of Cassandra thingy. I think I prefer the prolonged ambiguity in the film.

I always struggle with this sort of thing. Do I dive headfirst into the genre stuff or get the audience invested in the characters first? I guess it's about finding a balance between the two. Anyway, more thoughts to come after the premiere...

BTW, you can watch Chris Marker's short that inspired the film and show here:  La Jetée

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Sunday Shorts: See You Soon

I might have tweeted this one before, but it's worth repeating. Love the set up here. Look at all the information it conveys without the use of dialogue. While the running time is a little on the extreme side, this is an excellent example of how scenes should start as late as possible and quickly finish when their job is done.

Check out how it was made:

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Flip The Premise

Max Landis (Chronicle) has a pretty cool game to help come up with script ideas. One of my resolutions for 2015 is to write a TV pilot, along with future storylines, so this is going to be very handy.


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