Luke 1:17 - A Story of Hate
Luke (Ben Peck) is a young man filled with hate and trapped in a life that is spiraling out of control. He's joined by his younger brother, Frank (David Ponton), as he searches for both destruction and salvation. At age 14, Dakota Meyer has rapidly become one of my favorite of the younger generation of filmmakers. Meyer writes, directs and acts with both relentless honesty and remarkable insight as evidenced by both his acting work in his last film, Amy Carmical's Pact,
and this strong effort that brings to mind the underrated and brilliant film American History X.
Both Ben Peck and David Ponton are excellent here, and while it's difficult to paint a full portrait of these complex characters within the short span of a 10-minute film, Meyer does a tremendous job of creating involving characters brought vividly to life by these two actors.
If Dakota Meyer is this good now, I can't hardly wait to see what the future holds for this already inspired filmmaker.
Happy Hooker Bang Bang
David Paul Bonnell of Over Analyzed Productions contributes Happy Hooker Bang Bang,
a stylish yet brutal thriller of a film centering around Sara, a bookstore employee who loses her job and is forced to begin working with her hooker roommate to make ends. We all know hookers make ends meet.
When she gets mixed up with some bad ass clientele, Sara has to depend upon her hooker friends to take back the streets and make them safer for hookers again.
Happy Hooker Bang Bang
has a grindhouse feeling to it, an approach that works nicely to pull off some of the special effects that Bonnell wants to pull off towards the end of the film. The film doesn't leave a strong impact immediately, but it has a lasting impact that will have you reflecting upon its images and resolution long after its closing credits have rolled.
Bloody Hooker Bang Bang - A Love Story
Unless you're completely out of touch, you can probably tell by the title of this Jakob Bilinski and Cinephreak Pictures film that it's really kind of a sister film to Happy Hooker Bang Bang.
This time, the emotion is rage and the story itself is a continuation of the preceding film. While this film is nearly as relentless as was Frankie,
it has a darker sense of humor and a better sense of pacing than did that film. The action is still of the balls to the walls variety, but it's done so with a bit of an old school feeling that leaves you thinking to yourself that you wouldn't mind watching it all over again.
While the previous film felt like grindhouse, this definitely does possess and flaunt a grindhouse vibe. If you dig graphic violence with a sense of humor, then Bloody Hooker Bang Bang - A Love Story
is definitely a film for you.
is quite possibly the most disturbing of the 10 short films contained in this fourth edition of The Collective.
The film is almost relentless in its emotional and physical brutality, a brutality guided with tremendous power by the performances of Mitchell Thomas and Jason Hoover as two hyped up and raging dudes bent on revenge against Frankie (Justin Forbes) and his old lady (Justine Dalcantone). The two don't really have anything against the aforementioned ole lady, but the quickest way to revenge is through someone's heart, and these two guys are out to make it quick and brutal.
The film is written, directed and edited by Jason Hoover of JABB Pictures and he directs it with a sort of balls to the walls style that is both emotionally and visually exhausting. While the screaming occasionally feels a tad over the top and repetitive, the simple truth is that it all works together to create a torturous, chaotic atmosphere where anything evil seems completely possible when, you guessed it, the emotion of grief rules the day. While this wasn't my favorite film in this collection, it may very well contain the most impressive camera work.
Exploring the emotion of regret, Contrition
was directed by Jim Dougherty and written by both Dougherty and Jay Hinkelman. A brief synopsis of the film is that a woman named Ruby conducts an experiment that leads to the DNA alteration of her subject, however, an unexpected threat is posed and the lives of those closest to her are changed forever.
The film is quite unique in the way it approaches this issue of regret, an approach that weaves together family drama and sci-fi quite nicely. The performances are solid throughout, with the ensemble cast uniformly leaving a positive impression. It's rather unique to note that the film's cast includes acting students from GJC Talent Performing Arts Studio adult acting class. Tech credits are also solid throughout, with a lot of the usual inconsistencies one finds in low-budget shorts largely missing here.
101 Taylor Street
Rather unexpectedly, 101 Taylor Street
was my favorite among the films in this edition of The Collective.
Working with the emotion "denial," Jason Hoover and Spiral Filmworks put together an absolutely fantastic doc-style film about an unknown to history female serial killer named Martha Kemper, a grandmotherly type from Sheldon, Illinois whose long-standing matronly role in the community was horrifically shattered following a gruesome discover. Per 101 Taylor Street,
Kemper was known to have massacred over 130 people ranging from newborns to adults in their 80's.
Hoover writes this film masterfully, and his dialogue is delivered to perfection by Dennis Lamka in a voice-over narration. The camera work is terrific here, the voice-over simple yet effective and the story so completely hypnotic that you'll likely find yourself searching Google or Wikipedia to find out the truth of what happened on 101 Taylor Street.
This entry from Bryan Wolford and Freakwolf Productions works with the emotion of fear by introducing us to a woman (Kitsie Duncan) with an extraordinary fear of darkness. We meet her as she's talking to a doctor about her fear due to the presence of an ominous black mass that seemingly invades the darkness and threatens to invade her.
This film largely hooked me, especially the performance of Duncan. However, the lower budget special effects were anything but ominous and that did prove to be a tad distracting. Minor issue with the special effects aside, Myctophobia
is an intriguing short film that fits quite nicely within the framework of this collection.
Death Do Us Part
Having spent some time in college with filmmaker James Mannan, I'm always intrigued to see where his mind is going to go next. This film from Mannan and Liberty or Death Productions is right up there with Frankie
in terms of kick ass cinematography that serves to perfectly companion the film's journey through "lust." The film centers around a woman doing a paranormal investigation in a home that had experienced a wedding night tragedy.
I love it when a filmmaker can take you in unexpected directions within the context of a short film, and Mannan does so quite beautifully here. His ensemble cast is excellent here, including Jade Coley, Sarah Hoback, Stephen Harms, Al Aker and Laura Kincaid. Phillip Henry Christopher adds an original score that is stellar, a serene presence that sort of floats its way through the camera work and a story that doesn't go quite where you expect it to go. It's not often that I feel compelled to mention costumes in a short film, but Karen Webster deserves kudos, as well, for her terrific work in this short that is also one of this fourth edition's top offerings.
Flash of Wire
Examining the German emotional state of Schadenfreude, or enjoying the suffering of others, Flash of Wire
was largely filmed in Greece by David Ross and asks the question "When it comes to revenge - is once ever enough?"
The film kicks off with a guy (Tom Sparx) who is seeing a rather suspect doctor (Dennis Forkel) in an effort to make sense of his recurring dreams. Ross himself shoots this visitation in black and white, a stellar choice that creates a distinct style and emotional resonance that makes the film have a look and feel that mixes together both a modern day sci-fi with a bit of an old school monster flick vibe.
Flash of Wire
features some of the best acting to be found in The Collective, Vol. 4,
with Dennis Forkel being one of the true highlights as a doctor who is so creepy you almost feel like he ought to show up in Human Centipede 3.
Forkel is simply unforgettable here, and Tom Sparx plays off him quite nicely. Together, these two turn Flash of Wire
into a compelling and anxiety-inducing thriller of a short.
is unquestionably one of my favorite stories among the ten films in this collection. The film is intense, thought provoking, challenging and unnerving. Brandon Salkil stars in a Contagion
like scenario where he's apparently contracted a virus that is wreaking havoc on the community and making him deathly ill. Following the direction of the media, he calls into a hotline and begins a journey that will make you question who you trust, yes trust is the emotion here, and if those who are assigned to protect your well-being are actually invested in doing so.
If there's a word to describe Epidemic,
it's likely to be "disturbing." It's disturbing to think about how this entire story resolves itself and it's even more disturbing to realize that it's all completely believable. The film is written, directed, edited, shot and just about everything else by Dustin Mills, whose primary success here is in creating an unforgettable story and casting Salkil in the role of a man who begins to discover that everything he trusts may very well be unworthy of that trust.
With each subsequent edition of The Collective,
things just keep getting better and better. While I'll admit a slight fondness myself for Vol. 3, I'll also acknowledge that's primarily due to the fact that I was quite passionate about a couple of that volume's entries. On the other hand, while no single film completely blew me away in Volume 4, this volume is far and away the most consistent in terms of quality, entertainment value and kickassery.
I swear. Kickassery is a word.
My favorites this time around? Unquestionably that would be 101 Taylor Street and Death Do Us Part.
Best Camera work? Death Do Us Part and Frankie.
Best Performances? Flash of Wire.
Best Stories? Epidemic, Luke 1:17 and Contrition.
But, when it comes right down to it you simply can't go wrong with this collection. Find more information about The Collective, Vol. 4
on the JABB Pictures website
. This collection just had its world premiere at Indy's Days of the Dead this past weekend. You can get your copy now!
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic