Monday, December 7, 2009

The Curse of Micah Rood (2009)

The Curse of Micah Rood is a short film based on an old and true Connecticut legend of cursed apples that have a pattern that looks like a blood stain in their center. The legend dates back to 17th century Connecticut, and the variety of apple was available up until the 1930’s.

Filmmaker Alec Asten has stayed true to the original legend of Micah Rood and constructed an eerie short film on the supposed true events.

The film begins in 17th century Connecticut and hard-working farmer Micah Rood. Rood is obsessed with his apple orchard, which yields some of the sweetest fruit in New England, and he is convinced the townspeople are stealing from him. Because of this, he distrusts pretty much anyone and has become a recluse. His suspicions are further aroused when a traveling peddler comes to his farm and seeks shelter. He seems overly interested in Rood’s apples, putting Rood on the defensive. The next morning Rood discovers that the peddler has stolen apples from him and exacts swift and brutal justice underneath his prize apple tree. Obsession and madness soon follow when the apples are discovered to be tainted in their middles with blood-like splotches.

Filmmaker Alec Asten has crafted a taut and intriguing short film that is also visually rich. The unique story, with the screenplay by Nick Checker, is one that hasn’t been explored before and it makes for an eerily haunting film. The fact that the film is based on a true story makes it that much more interesting. The Micah Rood apple, with its distinctive bloody spot in its middle, mysteriously appeared in conjunction with the legend, but the last known variety of the apple tree was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1930’s. Still, its strange markings have never been scientifically explained and there have never been any other apple varieties like it.

Besides the rich story, the film is wrapped in an ominous tension that keeps building until the startling finale. The cinematography by Marc Wishengrad is filled with stark tones, flickering shadows and splashes of vibrant color, all which help build suspense and create a spooky atmosphere. I especially loved the shots of blood dripping from the apple trees.

The acting was also surprisingly good, especially for a low-budget film. Ron Palillo, best known for playing “Horshack” in the ‘70s show Welcome Back Kotter, does well playing Micah Rood, though sometimes the character’s thick Scottish accent gives the short an unintentionally comic feel. Some of the dialogue feels a bit heavy-handed and melodramatic at times, but other than those two problems I enjoyed this short very much.

The Curse of Micah Rood is an excellent short film that relies on psychological thrills as opposed to copious blood and gore. If you dig historical horror stories that are based on true legends, The Curse of Micah Rood is a very engaging film to check out!

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