Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Desdemona 6 (2011)

Rev your engines, kiddos, because this short film from director Johnny Priest will blow your lid off. I’m talking about the low-budget Desdemona 6, which takes its inspiration from 70s hot-rod flicks while throwing in some terrifying twists that land it squarely in horror territory. While the film’s gritty grindhouse look gives the film a dirty, scratched up look, it’s definitely the story of the mysterious driver and his pursuit of the couple that kept my eyes glued to the screen for its short 10 minute run-time.

The film is about a couple, Travis (Jason Mac) and Chrissie (Katie Bearden), on the road one night. Travis is driving Chrissie to work in his “baby”, a sleek hot-rod, when they encounter a menacing muscle car that taunts the hot-headed Travis into a drag race. After the young couple becomes stranded on a dark country road six miles outside the town of Desdemona, they find themselves in the fight of their lives while being relentlessly pursued by the demonic car and its mysterious driver (Bruce Rowland).

At different points in the film I was reminded of Christine, Jeepers Creepers and Death Proof, Tarantino’s homage to all grindhouse-era hot-rod flicks. However, the film never felt derivative and continued to keep things fresh and interesting throughout. It featured several surprises that made me jump in my seat and the direction by Johnny Priest was flawless.

I’ve already mentioned how Priest dirtied up the film stock to make it look grindhouse authentic, but he also managed to set the entire film at night. You might think nothing of this, but filmmakers on a limited budget usually don’t have the best track record with night shoots, as without the proper equipment most of the action is lost to the dark. I’ve seen plenty of low-budget films that were ruined just because you couldn’t SEE anything happening on screen if it was set at night. However, Priest overcame this obstacle and the entire short is crystal clear, with the dark night giving it just the right amount of menace without obscuring any of the real action.

The special FX were also very impressive, especially considering the film’s small budget. There is one startling scene (I’m saying as little as I can so I don’t give anything away) that comes out of nowhere and definitely gave me quite a start! It looks pretty dang perfect on-screen, too. And though the “mysterious driver” is (wisely) kept in the shadows, when we do see his scarred up face it is downright chilling! Plus, the driver’s car has quite a personality of its own and becomes like another character in the film.

Speaking of characters, I was also impressed by the performances in the film. Katie Bearden (Chrissie) and Jason Mac (Travis) easily convinced me they were a bickering couple and Bruce Rowland gave a menacing performance as the driver. And, of course, the beautiful hot-rods had personalities all their own, which you don’t need to be a gearhead to appreciate!

I never know what to expect when sitting down to watch an independent film, but I was absolutely stunned at how much fun I had watching Desdemona 6! Desdemona 6 is an impressive short that lovingly replicates the grindhouse feel while jolting the viewer with a terrifying ride down a highway to hell. For the thrill ride of your life, hop into Desdemona 6!

For more information, including upcoming screenings, check out the official site and Facebook page!

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