It seems appropriate that I happened to remember having received Cameron McCasland's indie slasher flick The Lashman on election morning. After all, what's more appropriate when thinking about politicians?
But, I digress.
The Lashman recently came in second in The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards in the category of Best Indie Film, while Lee Vervoort received some positive kudos for his role as the film's villain from Horror Society.
A few random observations:
- You kind of have to admire the women who get naked in indie horror. I mean, hell, they're not really doing it for the money. Is it for the love of film? Artistic integrity? An insatiable exhibitionist spirit? Whatever the reason, I can never help asking myself "How does an indie director approach an actress about getting full-on naked for slightly less than they'd make by holding a garage sale?
- I also wonder how it feels to know you're getting typecast as the guy who is absolutely, unquestionably going to experience a horrific death in a slasher flick?
- I wonder why other genres don't go full out like horror trying to support one another. I mean, seriously. Why aren't there romantic comedy film fests? indie romantic comedy film fests? I mean, really, if you don't win some kind of an award making an indie horror film then you really may not have a future in film because these folks believe in their festivals and conventions and awards.
Did I digress again?
What does digress even mean?
The Lashman is an indie horror flick. You know what that means? It means that you're not going to get pristine imagery. You're not going to experience sound design without a few cracks here and there. You're probably not going to see any Oscar winning performances, but you may just see a Horror Society winning one. In other words, you're likely going to experience an up-and-coming filmmaker, cast and crew working wonders on a modest budget and cooking up a few chills n' thrills along the way.
Perfect cinema? Nope. Immensely fun? Absolutely.
The Lashman is a retro-styled indie slasher flick, think 1970s VHS late night delights, with a little more substance than you might expect along with some actual character development. While the film may prove disappointing to hardcore gorehounds, anyone who is even remotely in touch with the history of indie horror will find quite a bit to like here.
While I felt compelled to mention nudity, and The Lashman does give us some decent skin, I feel even more compelled to tell you that these ladies can also act. I mean, seriously, who knew that T&A actually stands for Tits & Attitude?
Stacey Dixon is easily one of the film's highlights, while her gal pal in the film is nicely played by Kaylee Williams. David Vaughn does a nice job of giving us someone to like, Jeremy Jones gives us someone to loathe, and indie regular Shawn C. Phillips serves up one of his better performances and I couldn't help but picture him to thinking to himself "Holy shit, I actually get to act in this one." Lee Vervoort? Yep, he's a pretty awesome indie villain.
The film's tech is predictably hit-and-miss, though it's worth noting that most of 70's horror had hit-and-miss production values. Is the lighting occasionally off? Yep. It's also true that having the film largely take place at night doesn't help. At times, it kind of looks like M. Night Shyamalan decided to make an indie horror film.
Yes, I'm still bitching about the godawful The Last Airbender.
However, there's also little doubt that part of the approach is McCasland remaining faithful to the film's roots and the film's production team weaving 70's stylings into a low budget horror flick. The music from Thomas Berdinski and Jeano Roid is particularly noteworthy, while Josh Ickes does manage to do some fun and creative stuff with the film's lensing.
The Lashman isn't a perfect film, but it's a film that seems to accomplish what it sets out to accomplish by being a good ole' fashioned indie slasher flick with interesting characters having fun with a fairly paint-by-numbers story. Fans of indie slashers should watch for it at an indie/underground/horror fest near you.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic