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McCabria Darque

FANtastic Horror Film Festival – Short Film Reviews Volume Five (Skitta Merink, Cluster, Electro-Cute!)

Short Film Reviews Volume 5Note: SPOILER ALERT. The following reviews may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk. For spoiler-free discussions of these films, CLICK HERE for Skitta Merink, CLICK HERE for Cluster, and CLICK HERE for Electro-Cute!

Access to the FANtastic Horror Film Festival was courtesy of the Festival. Access to individual films was courtesy of their respective directors, as follows: to Skitta Merink from its director Joe Hendrick, to Cluster from its director D. Ryan Mowry, and to Electro-Cute! from its director Taryn Hough.

 


13. Skitta Merink – Quirky Film “Skitta Merink” Warms the Heart

Bill Oberst, Jr., stars in Skitta MerinkAt first glance, Skitta Merink might appear to be an odd film to be selected for an independent horror festival.  It is, after all, a comedy-romance, not a horror film.  But there are a few reasons that it fit right in at the FANtastic Horror Film Festival.

First, the film is little, well . . .  quirky.  Maybe odd is a better word.  But whatever you might want to call it, these people are simply not normal.  We can’t help liking Harold (played by Bill Oberst, Jr., but more on that later), but he seems a little, well . . .  off.  He can’t iron without getting burned, he appears to be losing his fight with the chicken he wants to cook for dinner, and the flowers he wants for the dining table almost do him in.  The film’s synopsis explain his quirks by advising us that poor “Harold only knows a life of servants who never leave his side and the mansion he has never left since his parents passed away when he was barely 5 years old.”  But there’s no better place for odd than a horror film festival, and despite its unusually uplifting subject matter, Skitta Merink fits right in.

Then there’s Bill Oberst, Jr., the winner of the FANtastic Horror Film Festival’s inaugural Lon Chaney award, presented by the Festival in conjunction with Chaney Entertainment for outstanding achievement in independent horror films.  His performance, nominated for the award as Best Actor in a Short Film, makes this movie.  His likability and optimism turn what could be an uncomfortable film into an enjoyably offbeat escapade.  And it is only fitting we get to see this kind and gentle side of Mr. Oberst at a Festival honoring his acting versatility.

Third, there are Harold’s servants – three comely women who seem to want to assist him.  Watch here for excellent performances by genre actresses Ana Corbi (Divergent) as Macy, Natalie Kline (From Dusk Till Dawn: the Series) as Justine, and Obiageliaku Anusionwu (The One) as Frances.  These three assistants come off as not just mysterious, but also as truly concerned for their charge.  When we see them dressed for the finale (in costumes that are destined for Comic-Con as soon as this film is discovered by cosplayers or steampunk afficionados), we know that these are three women whose hearts are as limitless as their beauty.

Finally, Kitty La Rouge, who appears to have been undiscovered prior to her role in Skitta Merink, makes her first film appearance as Candy, the sweet and gentle object of Harold’s affections.  When her face lights up at the end of the film, there is a true feeling that all is right with this rather odd world.

Director Joe Hendrick handles his material deftly, and receives beautiful, touching performances from his actors.  The film was nominated for a well-deserved cinematography award; the muted color palette adds to the unworldly feel and is soothing to the eye.

Skitta Merink is simply a beautiful work, with genuinely touching characters, a moving story, and an underlying kindness that is too often missing in today’s cinema.  Look for it at a film festival near you!

To read our news article about this film, CLICK HERE.
To visit the official film IMDb site, CLICK HERE.
To view the official FANtastic Horror Film Festival site, CLICK HERE.
To view the film’s trailer, CLICK HERE.
To view photos from the film’s showing at the Festival, CLICK HERE

Do you want to talk about it?  Please leave any thoughts, comments, critiques, or love notes in our “Movies” Forum.


14. Cluster – Feel Director D. Ryan Mowry’s Pain in the Short Film “Cluster”

Drill Scene from ClusterAs a fellow headache sufferer, I feel D. Ryan Mowry’s pain.  It is visceral, it is scary, and it is horrendous.  And it makes one helluva film.

Cluster is an eight-minute film, described as “a horror art film, a visual metaphor for how it feels to suffer with debilitating headaches: tension, migraine, and cluster.”  Those who suffer from serious headaches may recognize a symptom or two in the special effects – the sound is jarring and painful, the backgrounds are too vibrant by far.  Mowry’s artistic vision plays out in sight and sound and movement.  Do not view this film when you actually have a headache!

Actor Roger Garcia earned a Festival nomination for Best Actor in a Short Film for his performance as The Pain.  He packs quiet menace behind his eyes (all that show from out of his black, formless costume) and makes deft use of power tools.  Just what I needed: a headache with an electric drill!

Actor Reid McIver plays The Man suffering from the headache with a real understanding of the misery involved.  It’s impossible to tell whether this comes from McIver’s personal experience, or was imparted from the director.  Either way, the performance is noteworthy and relatable.

 D. Ryan Mowry’s artistic and painful short film Cluster is available on YouTube.

To read our news article about this film, CLICK HERE.
To visit the official IMDb film site, CLICK HERE.
To visit the official Facebook film site, CLICK HERE.
To view the official FANtastic Horror Film Festival site, CLICK HERE.
To view the entire short film, CLICK HERE.
To view photos from the film’s showing at the Festival, CLICK HERE.

Do you want to talk about it?  Please leave any thoughts, comments, critiques, or love notes in our “Movies” Forum.

 


12. Electro-Cute! – Horror-Comedy Electro-Cute! Attracts Viewers in Droves

Electro-Cute: the device that attracts.Director Taryn Hough’s eleven-minute short film, “Electro-Cute!,” had its San Diego Premiere at the FANtastic Horror Film Festival to which I was invited.  Hough’s comedic take on the “monkey’s paw” story tells the tale of Pandora (played by Taryn Hough, who also wrote and directed this film) and the unusual birthday gift she received from her mother.

The gift is an Electro-Cute!, a small hand-held device that looks something like an electric shaver, and which is supposed to attract friends to the user.  Unfortunately, Pandora uses it without reading the directions – including the giant double-page red-letter warning not to use it at this time of the month.  Having done exactly that, she has attracted attention, all right, but it is the attention of the heretofore inanimate objects in her home.  When she realizes that her talking calculator had started to give her some very important numbers before the effect wore off, she ups the juice – and finds herself with the kind of party life about which a girl can only dream.  Literally.

Electro-Cute! is hands-down a truly engaging short film, and one of the most entertaining films to be shown at 2014’s FANtastic Horror Film Festival.  The animation was spot-on and perfectly integrated into the live action, earning the film two Festival nominations for Best Special Effects in a Short Film and Best Cinematography in a Short Film.  Especially compelling were the fully-animated scenes late in the film showing Pandora’s party life;  these scenes had a rough and surreal feel to them that accentuated the craziness.  It’s clear the visual team of Taryn Hough and Cherrie Hamilton have a bright future ahead!

What made the scenes so compelling, though, was Pandora’s calm acceptance of her new world.  Taryn Hough, who received a Festival nomination for Best Actress in a Short Film, conquered her green-screen world with a blasé, nonchalant air, and an attitude of, “Okay, what’s next?”  No mere electrical-device-induced alternate universe was going to get our girl down!  Also, an acting shout-out goes to Blake Hogue, whose hilarious portrayal as the owner of the local Taser Town retail outlet doing a small-market television commercial was my laugh-out-loud moment.  (Tip:  Watch for the “city bear.”)

The high quality of this eleven-minute short film garnered it Festival nominations both for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film and for Best Comedy Film; it deserved these and more.  Although Electro-Cute! will not satisfy those who only enjoy a horror film dripping with blood and gore, those who also enjoy lighter films and horror-comedy will find this well worth watching.

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CLICK HERE to read our news article about Electro-Cute.
CLICK HERE to browse the official FANtastic Horror Film Festival site.
CLICK HERE to look through photos from the film’s showing at the Festival.

Do you want to talk more about it?  Please leave any thoughts, comments, critiques, or love notes in our “Movies” Forum.

 


disclosure 5 (tickets)

This website received access to the FANtastic Horror Film Festival from the Festival.  This website received access to Skitta Merink from its director Joe Hendrick, to Cluster from its director D. Ryan Mowry, and to Electro-Cute! from its director Taryn Hough. To read our entire review policy, CLICK HERE.