Friday, June 10, 2016

Night Stalker






Another Horror Short Film? I suppose these things happen...

Night Stalker was Written and Directed by Mike Anderson, Abigail Horton, and Ryan Dickie. Now, normally this is the part where I'd say that I know nothing about these three people, or their work, because that is usually case for me when it comes to Short Films. Usually. But not today. Y'See, Mike Anderson, Abigail Horton, and Ryan Dickie were--respectively--the Property Master, Assistant Camera, and First Assistant Camera on Blue Ruin, one of my favorite films ever (Check out the trailer right here), which is an awesome credit to have. Seriously, if you haven't seen this film, then you need to rectify that as soon as possible, because you're missing out.

Now, who knows if this connection will make any difference in their actual skills as film-makers. It probably won't, but what it will do, in all likelihood, is cause me to be a little more forgiving of them and their project than I might be on any other day.

Just letting you know about my possible bias here...

Anyway, here's the synopsis: THE NIGHT STALKER WILL POISON YOUR TOGO FOOD AND CHANGE YOUR FACE TO PLASTIC ANS DESTROY YOUR LIFE!!! YOU WILL WATCH THIS FILM AND THEN COME HOME AND YOUR DOG WILL BITE YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT THE SAME! NIGHT STALKER!! NIGHT STALKER!! NIGHT STALKER!!!!!!

This synopsis tells us nothing, of course, because it was probably written by some over-paid hipster asshole Social Media Director at SXSW, who most likely couldn't be bothered to even barely watch the film when it screened, because they were too busy combing their beard while texting about vintage t-shirts and/or an after-party where they served PBR. It was obviously written by a stupid person, and is obviously not an official synopsis. However, the fact that I couldn't locate an official synopsis anywhere is... strange and somewhat disconcerting. That might be a bad sign.

Either way, we're on our own here. Let's take a look.



Not bad.

Not great either.

I mean, it didn't really blow my skirt up, as the kids say, but it wasn't too bad. It certainly looked good. I really liked the weird designs of the Monster World, and the use of stop motion I liked the lead actress a lot. I think my main stumbling block, when it comes to really liking this short, is that I can't help but feel like the entire point of the thing was just to use the music of whoever the hell that band was in something. Are they a known band?

I could look it up, but I'm not really that interested.

Okay, so my completely uninformed, and extrapolated purely in my own head, theory is that someone involved with the film, or maybe someone related to, or dating someone, involved in the film, is in that band, and thus... a platform was created specifically to facilitate them. Maybe their social media wasn't taking off. Maybe they're just not finding an audience. Maybe their sound isn't that innovative or good. Who knows, but this is what I think is happening here. In a nutshell: Nepotism. This theory would explain why I couldn't find an official synopsis of the film anywhere, and yet there were plenty of links provided to find the band and their music.

I might have to call Shenanigans.

Because here's the thing, the film's story was very simple and straight-forward, which I appreciate. I'm a big proponent of Short Film Story Economy. Acknowledge the limitations of the genre! But so much time in the film is given over to karaoke of the band's song, to dancing to the band's song, to a triumphant bursting forth climatic moment featuring the band's song, that there's almost zero character moments to speak of. Luckily, the lead actress is talented enough, and emotive enough, to get some much needed information across in more subtle "Actor-y" ways, because otherwise, where's the firm story/character foundation for me to build off of, so that I can even attempt to give a shit about this Suburban whine rock band?

That probably sounded meaner than I actually care, but whatever, point stands.

Anyway, there's definitely ability here, and an eye for capitalizing on the limitations of the short film genre, while at the same time pushing some boundaries, and boldly striding into the area of weird and different ideas. But in the end, it was all undermined by the odd front-and-centering of this band, whoever the hell they were.

Not bad, kinda odd, but ultimately it stumbles.

Jon

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