There's a certain joy in watching the places that a truly indie filmmaker will go in pursuit of artistic integrity. Such is the case with writer/director Calvin Welch's unique and inspired indie horror film Anglerfish, a 59-minute film that weaves together elements of horror and Western into a distinct creative voice that defies both expectations and easy definition.
The film is set in 1906. Under the dark sky of an Apocalypse, a young couple's nightly rituals are disrupted by a mysterious woman burying her husband by the stream.
The young couple, played sublimely by John Wilkins III and Katy Wilson, look like they could have stepped out of Little House on the Prairie by way of The Twilight Zone. There's something incredibly off-kilter early on, though Welch keeps things mysterious and it's a joy watching these two performers chew on this mysterious, jarring material. As Juliette, Paula Black casts a dominating figure here and beautifully weaves together the various genres at work here. She's a hypnotic actress who had me rushing over to IMDB as the closing credits were rolling to check out her background.
Anglerfish features a vividly realized cinematic tapestry that marvels even more when you realize it was shot over five days on a micro-budget with an on-set crew of four people plus a few outsiders who worked pre-production or behind the scenes. The self-financed film is specifically designed to split all profits evenly among those involved in the film and all cast and crew were paid the same day rate.
Pretty cool, eh?
It's just as cool that the finished product is an inspired work of cinema. While Anglerfish won't please everyone, some of y'all will surely hate it, it's the kind of uniquely voiced indie project I tend to admire and it's clear that this small ensemble cast was clearly in-line with Welch's vision for the film.
Jackson Begley's lensing for the film is experimental yet immersive and music from Ivy Three complements Welch's story quite nicely. While Anglerfish won't likely be playing in a multiplex anytime soon, a vast majority of indie projects don't and Anglerfish is definitely the kind of film more concerned with pushing the boundaries of cinematic storytelling than catering to the masses.
After all, let's be honest. In an apocalypse, it's probably the multiplexes that'll be the first to go.
Anglerfish proves once again that you can make intelligent, inspired, and impactful cinema on a variety of budgets with talent, hard work, a devoted ensemble, and a willingness to give it all your heart and soul.
Being distributed via FilmHub, Anglerfish is available for viewing through your usual streaming platforms.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic