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The Independent Critic

Chris Stevens, Rob F. Hercik III, Tom Dwyer, Aimee Wein, John Cronk
Martin Binder
Martin Binder, John Leary

 "Quick Shop" Review 
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I admire Martin Binder.

One of a growing number of filmmakers whose first reviews from The Independent Critic weren't exactly stellar, one has to admire a filmmaker who commits to the craft, learns a few lessons along the way and returns for round two. While a 2-star, "C'- rating isn't exactly a thrashing, neither is it the wild praise that newbie filmmakers hope for when sealing the envelope and shipping out the film filled with optimism, hope and wide-eyed innocence.

With his first film, One-Day Seminar, Binder's clever idea based upon those godawful one day professional development seminars never quite gelled into a cohesive and convincing film. This time around, Binder takes a more predictable concept but gives it a unique energy and spirit all its own thanks to the script he penned with John Leary and laid back, almost campy performance from co-leads Chris Stevens and Rob F. Hercik III.

Hunter (Stevens) and Trevor (Hercik) are new college roommates who have a falling out over a girl. Trevor talks Hunter into going to his hometown for a weekend in the country, where things take a turn for the worse when they stop at a Quick Shop to go to the bathroom and proceed to get locked in the story and stalked by a rather eerie shopkeeper (Tom Dwyer).

With a running time just under 14 minutes, Binder obviously realizes that to create too comprehensive of a story would be misguided and unsatisfying. Instead, Quick Shop plays a lot like it could have been a snippet in Tarantino/Rodriguez's Grindhouse.

The acting in Quick Shop is dramatically improved from Binder's first film, though it's worth noting that the film is classified as a thriller by genre and works better as a more B-movie variation within the thriller genre as the performances for the most part lack of the sense of urgency to really sell the film as a thriller. The original music by Steve Davit, Chris Gordon and David Hoffman gives the film a sort of retro suspense feeling, a feeling magnified by D.P. AnneMarie Cronk's gritty camera work. Given the grittiness of Cronk's camera work, it was difficult to tell if the film's visible pixelation was an intentional artistic choice or a product of low-budget filmmaking. Either way, it proved to be a distraction and will hopefully be addressed early in the film's festival run.

While Quick Shop is relatively light on the actual thrills and chills, the film should still find a home on the growing indie and underground horror fest circuit. One gets the sense that Quick Shop is much more indicative of what Binder could do if given a decent budget to work with and, as was noted in the One-Day Seminar review, it will indeed be interesting to watch this young filmmaker grow. For more information on Quick Shop and to follow its festival run, be sure to visit the film's website listed above.

For the record and as a side note, kudos to Binder for developing a considerably stronger website and social networking package for his film. While this often seems like unproductive busy work for filmmakers, it's of tremendous aid to film sites and journalists as we work to bring these smaller, lower budget films to a wider audience.