I friggin’ love short horror films!! The challenge of trying to capture so much detail in so little time is truly amazing. Most of the horror shorts I’ve seen have better character development and more interesting stories than most big budget Hollywood releases. The first film, INDEMNITY, is written, directed, stars, is produced and edited by David Dietz. The film begins with Dietz’s character, William, running in the woods away from some unseen assailant. William eventually finds himself at a honky tonk bar in a very rural area. Once inside he befriends the bartender Joe (Daniel I. Radakovich) and slowly begins to open up about his situation.
It seems William is having some girlfriend troubles. His delicate flower Angela (Crystalann) wants him dead. Not in the “I wish you were dead” kind of way; I mean she wants him not breathing anymore. This short, which runs 51 minutes, is largely dialogue-driven in the first half as we learn a little about William and his dilemma. The second half gives us a little more action and a twist that while interesting, doesn’t completely work. What does work, though, is the structure and mystery of the set up and how Dietz builds up nicely to the reveal. He subtly drops clues along the way so that when the twist is revealed you’ll connect the dots, but the reveal does raise more questions and, again, doesn’t completely work.
The acting is solid from the entire cast and there’s some good chemistry between William and Joe as they are feeling each other out as they get to know each other. The whole time you feel there’s some truth bubbling right below the surface that’s not being addressed and this really adds to the mystery. The main flaws with this one are with some of the production values. Now granted I was sent a screener copy from the filmmaker so the copies being sold will probably look a lot better (I’m guessing), but I found the opening scenes and any scene shot in the dark to be grainy and washed out and having a very blue hue to it. This made the opening scene when William is running through the woods pretty hard to see. But again, this is probably just a problem with the screener copy I got.
A solid story and acting, though, make INDEMNITY worth checking out. I’m also looking forward to watching Dietz grow and mature as a filmmaker. You can check out INDEMNITY at Dietz’s website here. It’s available to watch online for $1.99/view. Dietz has also submitted it to many film festivals across the U.S. where I’m sure it’ll have a successful showing. Check it out.
Director: David Dietz (& writer, editor, producer, & star)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
The second short I watched this past weekend is DOLL BOY, by West Texas indie horror filmmaker Billy “Bloody Bill” Pon. DOLL BOY was screened at the 2011 Texas Frightmare Weekend, but I was in the press room getting some interviews and unfortunately missed it. I’m really sorry that I did!! DOLL BOY is a sick, twisted, scary, and disturbing short film (it has a 27 minute run time) … all the things I’ve come to expect from the Texas indie horror scene (remember SWEATSHOP??).
DOLL BOY begins with a windowless panel van pulling up to a run down warehouse. A demented-looking clown (who really enjoys his work) opens the sliding door of the van to reveal eight people bound, gagged, and terrified. He takes them out of the van and throws them into the warehouse. Well if you thought the clown was scary and disturbing you should see what’s waiting for them inside the warehouse!! As the people get used to the darkness and begin to help each other break loose from their shackles, they are attacked by the titular Doll Boy; a huge, hulking psycho wearing a very creepy mask that looks like a baby doll. It’s truly one of the most disturbing masks I’ve seen in a while.
The rest of DOLL BOY becomes a fast-paced stalk-n-slash flick where Doll Boy hunts down and kills the eight victims with a sledgehammer, his preferred choice of weapon. Writer, director, producer, and film and sound editor Bloody Bill keeps the pace fast and the killings brutal and doesn’t mind throwing in scenes that are bound to have genre fans talking. It’s never explicitly shown, but I hate to think what that clown (who drove the van) did to the little girl from the beginning. Bloody Bill also has a rather odd sense of humor running through his film. In the beginning when we’re following around the clown driving the van, the lyrics of the song playing on the radio are as follows:
He’s not responsible for what he’s doing/
because his momma made him what he is.
Bloody Bill also knows how to set up a shot and frames everything really well. The dilapidated warehouse becomes a character itself as the victims attempt to run away through claustrophobic hallways and hide between fake walls. But ultimately Doll Boy knows that warehouse like the back of his hand and there’s no escaping his sledgehammer. But who he is and how he got the way he is is never examined and I sure hope Bloody Bill turns this short into a feature length film. This is a talented, demented filmmaker and I REALLY wanna see more from him!! In the letter he sent with the screener copy, Bloody Bill promises me that “This is only the beginning.” I sure hope so!! Bloody Bill is exactly what the horror genre needs to wake it up out of the doldrums of shitty remakes and pointless sequels.
Bloody Bill also includes two phony trailers before DOLL BOY that proves he is a child of grindhouse cinema. The first is for CIRCUS OF THE DEAD and the second is MISTER FISTER, about a psycho who wears a brutal glove and kills girls by … well, just re-read the title and you’ll figure it out. I’d be extremely happy seeing short or feature films of either of these faux-trailers, especially MISTER FISTER. This one has a scene where the titular psycho kills a broad in his unique way and it turns out she was pregnant. The next scene has the coroner saying the victim was pregnant, to which the cop asks, “Where’s the baby?” Flash to the killer driving in his van with the dead fetus dangling from his rearview mirror. Like I said, Bloody Bill is exactly what the genre needs!! Real horror fans are always complaining that there’s no directors out there willing to push the envelope and make some hardcore shit, but I can tell you there is!! Definitely check out DOLL BOY and support Bloody Bill. I really need to see what he comes up with next.
Director: Billy “Bloody Bill” Pon (& writer, sound editor, producer, & film editor)
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer