Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Killer Shorts (2009)

It’s no secret that indie films have it tough. Not only are the odds stacked against them because of lack of budget, but also they usually have an inexperienced crew and cast. For an indie film to really set itself apart, its story must be unique and offer a new perspective on the horror genre.

Still, most low-budget indie films fall into the trap of committing just any old story to film or, even worse, sacrificing story for gory special FX that the filmmakers couldn’t afford in the first place.

Unfortunately, the indie horror anthology Killer Shorts falls into this trap and fails to deliver anything new or interesting with its three short films. Without interesting stories to propel the shorts forward, Killer Shorts poor production values are glaringly evident and make the anthology painful to sit through.

A collection of three films, Killer Shorts begins with a horribly unnecessary horror host awkwardly introducing each of the stories amidst a Halloween prop filled cemetery. The first short is Puncture, which tells the tale of a couple that decide to meet the woman’s sister at a party…only when they get there they discover that all the guests have been killed by a vampire. After poking around a bit, they flee back home, where they gather up crosses, garlic and even have a priest bless a bucket of water before returning to the dead party to slay a vampire. This short doesn’t have much of a plot and the characters just meander about for most of the short. The only commendable thing about the film is a fun performance by Misty Simmons-Poteet (the only decent performance in the entire anthology).

The next short is called The Last Rendezvous, where after many boring, unnecessary scenes we learn that two people are having an affair behind the backs of their significant others. The two cheaters meet up at an abandoned house, but are discovered…and a mysterious killer shows up to dispatch them. This whole short just feels dragged out and anti-climactic. There are lots of random scenes that are poorly constructed and don’t make any sense within the larger context of the story (like the scene of some guy skipping then spinning in a circle down the sidewalk…really?? WTF??). Plus, you can see the “twist” coming from a mile away.

The short with the most potential is the last one, called Navstar. The short is about a GPS system that directs people to an isolated area so a strange alien-like creature can kill them. The idea of technology turning malignant and luring people to their deaths may not be very original, but it is still interesting and feels relevant. Unfortunately, the execution of the story is just horrible, suffering from the same problems as the other shorts: poor acting, slow pacing, shaky direction and silly special FX, including a man in a rubber suit playing the creature.

Killer Shorts was made for less than $1,000, a fact that is glaringly evident by its poor quality. I’ve seen many indie horror flicks, both good and bad, but Killer Shorts is quite possibly one of the worst I’ve seen. Its production values, from the acting to the editing to the directing and beyond, are atrocious. Even the score is grating. If it had focused a bit more on developing its storyline, perhaps it would have been bearable, but as it stands Killer Shorts is downright deadly to watch.

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