• Applecart

    Released by: Crumpleshack Films
    Released on: March 10, 2015
    Director: Dustin Wayde Mills
    Cast: Haley Jay Madison, Erin R. Ryan, Dave Parker, Joshua Miller, Allison Egan, Brandon Salkil, Joni Durian
    Year: 2015
    Purchase From Crumpleshack Films

    The Movie:

    Applecart is one of the latest installments from director Dustin Wayde Mills (Her Name was Torment, Easter Casket, Snuffet) which promised to be something new and different. Mills delivers on that promise in both form and function, and the short film fashions itself as truly unique.

    Applecart is comprised of four segments with a brief introduction sequence, with the entire film being just short of an hour long. There are a few constants throughout the four segments: being shot in silent black and white accompanied by old-timey music and a laugh track, characters eating apples, all characters wearing creepy white masks, and sex/nudity.

    The first segment, “The Sleepover”, features Daughter (Haley Jay Madison) and Special Friend (Joni Duran) having a slumber party at Daughter’s house, much to the disturbing delight of Dad (Dave Parker) and the imminent horror of Mom (Allison Egan). “The Sleepover” is by far the strongest segment of the film. The concept is well thought out, the shots are interesting and well planned, and the acting is superb. It provides a great opening to the film.

    The other three segments don’t wow as much as the first, but are effective in their own ways. The themes that Mills plays with in these shorts are shocking and disturbed: incestuous longing, torment of an invalid, bathtub abortions, child abuse, and a crush turned rape-y. All of these are set to laughing, applauding, and sometimes booing from an audience whose presence is simply audible. Other than these sounds, there is no dialogue (not even in title card fashion).

    Although this film is a different stylistic choice than we normally see from Mills, a lot remains the same. We have an overabundance of naked women, to the point where it feels exploitative. And while we do see male masturbation up close and personal, it is revealed in the credits that a prosthetic was used. There seems to be some lazy editing, with the third sequence, “Dad”, being the biggest victim. The title screen does not appear until 2 minutes into the sequence, making one think it may be a brief informal scene until the title is announced and the action is jumped right back into. Also throughout this segment is a lack of the audience noises heard throughout the remainder of the film.


    The video quality of Applecart was great, judging from a YouTube screener. The entire film is shot in black and white, with only one color-washed sequence towards the end of the last segment. There are a few scenes that are very well lit with well thought out shadow placement—notable here is in ‘The Sleepover’ with great representations of light and dark within the different rooms of the house. The third segment, ‘Dad’, suffers from time to time with overshadowing and poor lighting choices. Overall, the film is pretty to look at and has a very unique point of view.

    There isn’t much to weigh in on the audio in the film, as there is no dialogue and limited sound effects. The phantom audience noises become distracting on occasion, both in their absence and at times their excess. The original music by Kevin Macleod fits the style of the film like a glove. There is also a sound effect that sounds like the volume of a fuzzy, not-an-actual-channel TV screen being gradually turned up in the transition scenes, which adds to the tension and works with the theme.

    Bottom Line:

    Applecart was certainly well-shot, well-planned, and well-executed. For a low budget horror movie director, the vision may have been a bit more than could be comfortably chewed. The film screams ‘artsy’, to a point that feels almost ‘ostentatious’. But kudos to Dustin Mills—Applecart is bold, ballsy, and worthy of its praise, making it a great viewing experience.