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The Independent Critic

Pat Dortch, Michael Sharpe, Kayli Maree Tolleson, Mahri Shelton
Michael Sharpe
15 Mins.

 "Out of One's Misery" a Complex Psychological Horror Short 
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I will confess that I was hesitant to check out writer/director Michael Sharpe's latest film, the 15-minute psychological horror film Out of One's Misery.

With a basic storyline that at least hinted at a plot uncomfortably similar to my own darker past, Out of One's Misery felt like one of those "too close for comfort" type of films.

I was right and I was wrong.

Out of One's Misery does hit at least modestly close to home, but it is a unique and involving artistic statement that is also so powerfully constructed that it's impossible to ignore. The film evolves around a stranger who is haunting a man grieving the death of his wife and daughter.

Sound simple?

It is and it isn't. That's the beauty of it.

D.P. Joe Stauffer lenses the film in a way that is both intimate and horrifying and, despite the challenges of working with low-budget, surprisingly crystal clear even considering the film is a remarkably dark and stark film. Stauffer's camera turns the film into the true definition of a psychological horror film by creating compelling imagery that will leave you squirming uncomfortably and emotionally as the closing credits roll.

Into that imagery is inserted a top notch ensemble cast including Pat Dortch as David, Sharpe himself as Sanford, Kayli Maree Tolleson as the daughter, and Mahri Shelton as the mother. The key players are Dortch and Sharpe, whose performances bounce off each other with such an emotional intensity that one is never completely certain exactly what's going on - and that's exactly the way it should be. Dortch is simultaneously heartbreaking and frightening and edgy, while Sharpe's portrayal of Sanford is revelatory and uncomfortably disturbing. While they're given less to do, Kayli Maree Tolleson and Mahri Shelton both make the most of their time on screen.

Alex Mauldin's original music heightens the film's emotional intensity, an intensity tugs at the heart and toys with the senses to equal effect. Kenny Caperton's production design manages to create a set that embodies both a house of grief and horror and uncertainty and soul aching insanity.

For more information on the film, be sure to visit its Facebook page linked to in the credits on the left.

Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic