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The Independent Critic

  • The Dead Things Outside Your Door, Pt. 1 and 2
    Graphik13 Films
  • Spooky Stuff - The Zombie File
    Liberty or Death Productions
  • Zombie Soup
    Liberty or Death Productions
  • They Said They Were Here to Help
    Over Analyzed Productions
  • Voice Over
    Arsonist Pictures
  • (se) XX Z(ombie)
    Silence in the Dead of Light
  • Marauders
    JABB Pictures
  • Consumption of the Heart
    Coppfilms
  • A (gore)aphobic
    Quattro Venti Scott Productions
 The Collective, Vol. 5 - The Undead Have Taken Over 
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Working with the theme "Undead," the writers and filmmakers contributing to The Collective, Vol. 5 have created an intriguing, one-of-a-kind indie horror short film collection comprised of 10 films that are 10 minutes in length. Each filmmaker was given the basic theme to work with and the freedom to create a 10 minute short film of their desire. A project started by Jason Hoover and JABB Pictures, The Collective has quickly become known amongst fans of indie horror for its uniquely themed films and the distinct artistic voices who contribute to the collections. While all the films were required to work around the central theme, each of these up-and-coming filmmakers/writers came up with their own unique way of approaching the theme ranging from hardcore horror to deeply personal to almost doc-style. Here's The Independent Critic's brief reviews of each of the 10 films in The Collective, Vol. 5 - 
Marauders - JABB Pictures

The phrase that comes to mind with Jason Hoover's Marauders is "intelligent badassery." I'm not convinced this is actually a phrase, but I'm not sure you could come up with an accurate phrase to describe this film, a film that weaves together the brutality of films like Chaos and Funny Games with a contemporary style that could make you think of Leatherface or Michael Myers or any number of other terrifying figures.

The real surprise? It actually makes sense in a senseless sort of way. The entire film is a balls to the walls reflection of man's depravity unleashed in a world where zombies aren't the most terrifying thing around. We have a rather terrifying trio, quietly led by or inspired by an ominous masked man whose purpose isn't quickly revealed. The actions that unfold are horrifyingly brutal, made ever more so because of the sheer glee of those inflicting it. Fans of low-budget indie horror will find much to love with Marauders, a relentlessly dark yet compelling film that says much more than you might want it to about the human condition.

Consumption of the Heart - CoppFilms

At first glance, Consumption of the Heart is a sad little film about a sad little woman in a seemingly sad little relationship. Our story begins with a woman trying to sexy herself up in an effort to attract the attention of her very distracted man, an effort that seems to have little impact on their relationship. But then, writer/director Andrew Copp makes it all increasingly interesting with a story that unfolds as a bit of a twisted love story in which the lengths we'll go to for love become increasingly disturbing.

Consumption of the Heart works well because of its terrific cast that includes Brandy Bishop, Adel Souto and Tammy Banks Anderson. While this sounds like it might not have a place in the world of the undead, rest assured that Copp has fashioned a film that works on an emotional level and in terms of its satisfying and creepy level of gore. The film's original score is top notch, though the film has a couple spots where slightly tighter editing would intensify its lasting impact.

Voice Over - Arsonist Pictures

Noah East stars as Noah, a young man who steps outside and gets bitten by a zombie. While we'd usually expect the guy to turn almost instantaneously into a zombie himself, in director Joshua Hull's Voice Over we're treated to much more of a story as it becomes apparent that Noah is slowly moving into his zombie tendencies thanks largely to an increasingly louder voice that wants to be fed and isn't willing to wait until after Noah's upcoming dinner date.

Since the film is directed by Joshua Hull, it should be no surprise that Voice Over is a darkly comical tale that may not necessarily please diehard zombie fans but would be right at home in a comedy collection of horror shorts at nearly any indie or underground film festival. East is terrific as Noah, embodying the young man with a sort of narcissistic bewilderment that becomes increasingly funny as we catch on to what's going on. While the film could have easily kept going, Hull keeps everything paced quite nicely and gives us all an ending sure to satisfy.

A (gore)aphobic - Quattro Venti Scott Productions

While I don't mean to diss low-budget horror filmmakers, I must confess to being a tad surprised at the tremendously creative storylines that unfolded in this fifth volume of The Collective. A (gore)aphobic is yet another example of an intelligent story that unfolds creatively within the span of a mere ten minutes. Athena Prychodko stars as a young woman trapped inside her home by a zombie outbreak. The majority of the film centers around her efforts to find a way to escape her home, efforts that seem futile as the days move by and the zombies just keep coming back.

I loved Prychodko here, though I'll also confess that this one of the few films where the low-budget nature of the film hindered my enjoyment of the final product. While one expects a certain amount of cheesiness in the special effects and make-up of a low-budget horror film, given the substance of this story it all seemed just a bit out of balance. That said, this was still one of my favorite stories in this fifth collection.

(se) XX Z(ombie) - Silence in the Dead of Light

If I were to give an award for the most inspired short in this collection, it would likely go to this quirky little short that weaves together Hollywood classics and contemporary zombie into a film you'll either love it or hate it but you won't be able to ignore it. I mean, seriously, who'd have ever thought to weave together frustrated wives/girlfriends, zombie husbands, a silent film, cue cards and a spot-on perfect original score?

Oh yeah, I forgot. This is The Collective. Anything goes.

The film's production quality is truly of a classic nature, a perfect choice for a low-budget film and a choice that makes the film look and feel like a cross between Chaplin and early 20th century porn.

Not that I've ever seen early 20th century porn.

There's nothing about this film that doesn't work, with the ensemble cast clearly understanding the intended vibe and the simple yet intriguing story being absolutely perfectly suited for a 10-minute short.

Spooky Stuff - The Zombie File - Liberty or Death Productions

James Mannan from Liberty or Death Productions actually has two shorts in this collection, with Spooky Stuff - The Zombie File taking a comfortable place in the zone of "found footage" meets "reality" meets The Collective. Mannan exudes a sort of laid back vibe, a bit of a refreshing thing given the number of highly intense shorts in this collection. While the film seems to start off slow, it becomes apparent pretty quickly that Mannan is shooting for something and by film's end he's achieved his mark.

This isn't the film that's going to leave the strongest impact in this collection, though it's actually a terrific companion piece to Mannan's other film in this collection, Zombie Soup. Hardcore zombie fans may lament that Mannan's been given two slots in this collection, especially since he's serving up two relatively normal flicks that would be hard-pressed to fall into the horror genre. I'd understand the sentiment, but personally think Jason Hoover, whose JABB Pictures puts together this collection, is spot on the money with the tremendous diversity and freedom he offers filmmakers and the films chosen for his collections.

Zombie Soup - Liberty or Death Productions

As Zombie Soup began to play, I will confess that I found myself thinking "Oh, James. What have you done?" But then, a weird thing happened on the way to the closing credits.

I was hooked.

Zombie Soup reminds me of a film I just caught from those fine folks at Cheezy Flicks called I Heart Monster Movies. In this case, Mannan essentially makes a zombie doc. He interviews some of the folks involved in this collection about a variety of topics related to zombies, zombie movies, zombie culture and more. The short film moves along at a terrific pace, though it certainly can be said that some questions are more interesting than others.

But isn't that always the case?

What makes this all quite delightful is that you can really sense the joy these folks get from being involved in these motion pictures, whether that's as a writer, a director, an artist or a filmmaker. While there's always been a tremendous camaraderie within the world of The Collective, even for film critics, Mannan does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit, heart and intellect that goes into creating low-budget horror and these zombies. I'm not sure how much of a market there is for a zombie documentary, but this is a film that should find a place in the world of horror film fests.

They Said They Were Here to Help - Over Analyzed Productions

It's a tad surprising, maybe even a bit disappointing, to see just how normal at least half of the films presented in The Collective, Vol. 5 end up being. This film felt like a cross between Blindness and the recent Contagious, though in this case we're certainly dealing with zombies. This is another tremendous story, though it's told in a rather straightforward and almost documentary style. It seems like DP Bonnell is trying to cram in quite a bit here, an approach that seems more like it's planting the seeds for either a longer short film or a low-budget indie feature.

They Said They Were Here to Help is beautifully photographed and, my gut tells me, a really good film still waiting to be birthed into something bigger and bolder. This is not to say that this short film is a "bad film." It's not. It's one of this collection's least satisfying films, because the story that's unfolding here simply isn't told effectively in its allotted 10 minutes.

The Dead Things Outside Your Door (Parts 1 and 2) - Graphic13 Films

If we could have given They Said They Were Here to Help ten of the twenty minutes afforded to this two-part short film, I'd have been a mighty happy camper. It's not that I hated this film - not at all. Eric Schneider makes good use of his time here for the most part, though there were moments where it felt like a film that could have been tightened up a bit. This is another film that weaves together zombies along with the essential depravity of man, a storyline that intrigues because it almost hints at why we so completely love zombies anyway.

Aren't they really just an extension of us?

You have a story about the worst extreme weather outbreak in U.S. history, weather that is having a rather dreadful impact on a few Midwesterners including a loner, a couple hillbillies, a drug dealer and his ex-girlfriend.

This ain't gonna' be pretty.

It does make for pretty decent cinema.



The Conclusion:

The Collective just keeps getting better and it just keeps getting more consistent. With volumes 1-4, I found myself with a couple absolute favorites and, as well, I found myself with a couple that I could live without. With this volume, even the weakest links feel like they have a place within this shorts collection and there's not a single one here that I wouldn't watch again. In fact, I already have.

What I find a tad disappointing with this collection is that no single short completely blew me away. Is it perhaps I'm on zombie overload? Perhaps. It's certainly not a lack of diversity and creativity among the filmmakers. With the last three collections, I found myself telling others about a couple of the shorts. I don't really have that one this time around that makes me want to shout about it on the rooftops. That's not a horrible thing. These are all well made and entertaining short films, though I certainly preferred some more than others.

If I have to pick a "Best of" for the collection: Consumption of the Heart

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 

For more information, visit the JABB Pictures website.
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