So, I went to the recent HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati expecting to meet with Jill Sixx Gevargizian for an interview regarding her new short horror film, Call Girl...and I got so much more! I met with two more incredibly talented filmmakers (not to mention all-around nice people) and was able to watch their films.
First up was the film that I came to see...Call Girl.
Now, I won't spoil anything in the way of plot details or anything because, just like the rest of these films, this is a dish best served cold. The film opens with a close up of Laurence Harvey playing Ed, a bloke chatting into, what appears to be, a sort of skype-type camera/screen. Harvey was born for genre. His eyes provoke a special kind of menace within the viewer...so, you know he's always up to no good. His role in Call Girl is no exception. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that he's waiting to share with the person on the other end of his video-chat his date for the evening. Enter Mitzy, played by the wonderful Tristan Risk, whom you'll surely remember as Beatress Johnson in last year's American Mary. Here, she also brings a certain magnetism in the span of a few minutes.
The direction is taut and the cinematography is expansive for such a confined space. It all takes place in one little place...but, the location feels so warm and inviting. Jill Sixx Gevargizian does such a great job of laying out the scene and inviting us into this twisted little world in just six minutes. It's kind of hard to critique a short film because it has such a tiny window to manage everything in...especially when it comes to horror. In fact, one could argue that effective short horror films are harder to make than features. But, the only critique I could give Call Girl is that it feels so goddamn short. I wish there were more...MUCH more! Everything sets up perfectly in the way that when you see what happens, you're taken aback a little and settle in for an entire story devoted to what has been arranged for the viewer. Only...credits. Find a way to see Call Girl, if for the simple fact that the more buzz it gets...the more likely it will be to one day watch a full-length feature for it! Awesome stuff!
So, there I sat...in awe...thinking to myself...God, things can't get much better, right? Only, the quality of the short films being screened never once took a dip for the worse. Next up was Jerry Pyle's Service.
What can I say about Service other than the fact that it goes straight for the jugular after managing to disorient you with all the elements that the film presents. Service opens with a mother and daughter walking into a lovely house. It's clear that Lucy, the mother (played by the lovely Denna Thomsen), has arrived for some kind of service job. What that particular service job entails becomes pretty evident after a couple of minutes in. Her daughter, Annie (a really talented young actress with a great last name, Rylie Martinez), is left in the kitchen area and is told to stay put in order for her mom to get down to business. As I mentioned earlier, I won't mention much more because it really is enthralling to experience these films personally. I will say that Service certainly does excellent work of shifting gears rather quickly and darting into all these different subgenres. Is it a psychological slasher? Or is it something much more?
The performances are nothing short of great by everyone on screen. And the film is shot impeccably. Cinematographer Matt Garrett really makes the film feel so much richer than it is. The sound department really deserves credit for creating a nice sense of tension throughout the entire picture. Really, though...the star of this show is writer/director/editor Jerry Pyle. This man is headed for great things, ladies and deviants. This is the kind of short film that will live on in infamy. That next short film that gets unlimited hits on YouTube through word of mouth. I cannot wait for Pyle's feature debut!
Last, but certainly not least is a film that really took us by surprise. When I went to the HorrorHound screening I took fellow Deviant (and longtime friend) Craig with me to witness the carnage on the screen. And John Pata's Pity was Craig's favorite of the weekend. And for good reason, too!
Pity opens on some rainy night in some old car...somewhere. The film is minimal. Nothing fancy. Nothing over-the-top. But, goddamn what a fucking experience it is! Jake Martin plays a man lost, at the very bottom of his life...struggling to cope with something. Find an answer...whatever that may be. But, here's the thing...Pity is all tension. All grip. It pulls you in and tightens its hold on you...never letting you breathe in its 7 minute run time. The film lives in the moments of dark contemplation. All of us have been this man at some point of our lives. Just never this extreme. It is a short film packed with so much emotion...it really is a sight to behold.
Coincidentally, Pity is produced by Jill Sixx (who, not only is talented herself, but also proves to have a great eye for talent). Robert Patrick Stern handles cinematography duties for the film...and, goddamn...if ever there was a calling card reel for great camera work...this is it. The sound department really creates its own character in the film and breathes life into the story. As the credits roll, the sound never lets up that grip the film has on you. Both calming and eerie in the same breath. But, the star of this show is writer/director/editor John Pata, who also co-directed and co-wrote Dead Weight. His use of restraint is seamless in the film. Never did I once think that something was overdone whenever the point finally came across. Pity is seven minutes of perfect filmmaking.
All of these films are touring the film festivals and horror conventions throughout the year...so, please...do yourself a HUGE favor and find a way to see these films for yourself if you get the privilege. I realize that I'm talking about a mere 21 minutes of genre celluloid. But, within those 21 minutes you will find much better things than in most Hollywood features in theaters today. Jill Sixx Gevargizian, Jerry Pyle and John Pata are destined for much bigger things, based on these films. So, that should be reason enough to seek them out.
|FROM LEFT: Jerry Pyle, John Pata, Deviant and Jill Sixx Gevargizian|
Thanks for reading,