Released by: Hodge-Podge Productions
Directed by: Eduardo Miyar
Cast: Eric Dooley, Valerie Jones, James O'Donnell
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A bearded sleep guy on couch. The phone rings - it's someone named Laurie (Valerie Jones). He answers and we learn that his name is Sam (Eric Dooley). He's mad at her but she needs his help. She tells him her boyfriend is in danger, possibly dead and successfully cons him into helping her out. She swings by, he gets in her car. She tells her that the boyfriend’s name is Wes (John Stevenson) and that he went to his parents' cabin awhile ago. She says she thinks he has a medical problem he's hiding from her. Wes gets bad headaches and can't keep things straight.
They drive past a fly ridden piece of road kill and turn off the highway down a dirt road with a 'no trespassing' sign to arrive at a house. Sam and Laurie obviously have a past, they’re ex's it would seem - Sam says he'll help her, they'll go into the house and see if here's there and if not, they find a cop and handle it that way. Someone with green face paint and a bowler hat watches them from the brush nearby.
They go inside and the house is a mess inside/ Pizza crusts are all over, post it notes all over the place - a DVD-R on the table with instructions to play it. They do, a guy talks on the video about how his mind is playing tricks on him and then explains that he is in fear for his life. He explains the situation thusly - he's a method writer who has to disappear inside the story to make it seem believable. He feels that his writing a horror novel has started messing with him, he's now hearing bumps in the middle of the night as he works on his story. Is it an external force or something inside of him? He then says that 'if you're watching this then I assume I am either missing or dead.' He then warns them to get out of the house and leave as fast as they can. The guy in the green face paint shows up and beats the door with a shovel. Things are getting weird and fast.
Laurie wants to search the house more but Sam wants to go to the cops immediately. But to be clear, she wants to search more... alone. Soon enough she tarts acting nuts and hits him with a log and runs for it. Sam heads into the bedroom and finds another DVD-R. The face on the screen, Wes, tells him 'if you're watching this it means Laurie hasn't killed you yet' and that the first round was a red herring. He then says that there's something wrong with Laurie. We see the green face paint guy creep up behind Wes on camera as he explains how insanely jealous Laurie is - it cuts away but we assume he's murdered.
Face paint guy then emerges out of the closet and attacks Sam - there's a chase and a knife attack and Sam pushes the masked assailant down the stairs. Let’s leave it at that, because it’s really the last half of this that brings it all together and as such, we won’t go into spoiler territory.
This short, shot on HD video, features some really nice camerawork though the interior location could have been older looking, maybe a bit creepier, to work better in the context of the story. It feels a bit too suburban and generic when maybe some eerier touches would have made things more interesting to look at – the flipside of this coin though is that the rather pedestrian location makes it a bit more believable? Either way, the visuals are a selling point here. The shift between black and white and color throughout the movie is interesting and well executed. It made sense in the context of the story where it could very easily have come across like a cheap gimmick. But it doesn't, it works and quite well at that. The opening shot, in which things are a bit ‘fuzzy’, set the stage for the story to come and the way in which so much of the short is slightly off kilter in terms of its framing helps to keep us intrigued by what happens on the screen.
As far as the acting goes, it’s good. Valerie Jones is solid and John Stevensen is actually very strong here, but not until the later part of the story. Stick with it and watch his character evolve in interesting ways. At first I didn't like him in the part but he won me over by the time it was done - not sure if credit for that goes tothe scriupt by Don Guarisco (he of Schlock-Mania), the performance or both but it works and really that's what matters.
Eric Dooley isn't quite as convincing as the other two. He's not awful by any stretch, but I felt he was a bit distant in some scenes. Not a bad performance, just not a great one. He’s entirely serviceable but fails to stand out.
As far as the story goes, it does seem like Sam was too easily swayed to go along on this trip by Laurie in the first place. Not every disgruntled ex wants to help someone from his past. But at the same time if you can accept this as a plot device, a key to getting the main story moving, it works. Sometimes plot devices don't always need to be 'real life.' All in all, this is twenty-five minutes of good suspense. It’s not gory or sensationalist, and those behind the production would seem more interested in atmosphere than exploitation. This kind of reminded me of a good Twilight Zone episode and that's definitely a compliment.
And while you’re at it, watch the whole movie for free below!