Christopher Stewart

About Christopher Stewart

Christopher Stewart is a long term horror fanatic. With a fascination for the morbid and bizarre, Christopher enjoys going to horror cons, film festivals, and where ever creepy stuff happens. Short fiction writer and genre-muser over at Christopher can be found in the often-frozen North of Scotland, and on Twitter @horror365.

The Eyes of My Mother (2016) Review

eomm1The Eyes of My Mother (USA, 2016)
Dir: Nicholas Pesce
Starring: Kika Magalhaes, Will Brill, Diana Agostini

In UK Cinemas early 2017

Plot: As a young girl, Francisca witnesses the murder of her mother (Agostini) at the hands of a home invader, Charlie (Brill). Her father beats Charlie but Francisca secretly cares for him in the barn. Now a woman, Francisca (Magalhaes) lives in fear of the isolation her rural upbringing has left her in as her father dies. Praying to her mother for guidance leads her down a trail of murder, corpse defilement and surgical alterations.

The directorial debut for writer/director, Nicholas Pesce, The Eyes of My Mother shows that Pesce is a name to remember. A moody and often brutal tale of loneliness. It’s a story that reminds me of the famous killer, Ed Gein, a man who has inspired his fair share of films including Psycho, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The murderous, corpse-bothering ways of Francisca definitely draw a comparison to the Wisconsinite killer. Both also share a deep attachment to their mothers and an isolated upbringing. However while they may share similar begins, Francisca takes things much further in pursuit of her deranged happiness.

eomm3Francisca is a bit of a deranged killer but under the direction of Pesce, the film eases into it. We see where her reasoning lies even if it is massively flawed. We learn where her skills come from and why she uses them on her victims. The use of cinematography captures Francisca’s loneliness. Extreme long shots show her standing almost as a tiny speck amongst the towering trees that surround her home. The choice to make this film black and white instead of colour fills the screen with shadows, both beautiful and terrifying.

The Eyes of My Mother is not just a beautiful looking film, it is also incredibly well acted. The cast do a fantastic job, particularly Kika Magalhaes as Francisca. She shows all the complexity of the character, a girl stunted by trauma as a child and terrified of being alone. She is tender and loving but also desperate and brutal. She knows just what things she needs to do to get what she wants but doesn’t seem to understand the pain she’s inflicting on others. Her interactions with Charlie would be quite sweet if she hadn’t surgically cut his vocal chords. Will Brill’s screentime as Charlie may be short but he’s memorable for the time he’s there. His introduction as a murderous home invader is unnerving. His sweetness falls away quickly and his evilness becomes apparent, not only in his words but in his physical acting too.

eomm2While stories that mimic the killings of Ed Gein are nothing too original now, The Eyes of my Mother still manages to have a freshness about it. It’s more artistic and stylish than other necrophilic gore fests that have taken similar inspirations. This film seems to take a much more psychological route, focusing on the why rather than the what. Francisca’s fears are what drives her, and her memories of her mother is what justifies her actions.


Cannibal Messiah aka Der König der Kannibalen (2016) Review

cmCannibal Messiah aka Der König der Kannibalen (Germany, 2016)

Dir: Crippler Cris and Master W

Starring: Crippler Cris, Master W, Raping Ras

Out now here –

Plot: Cannibal Messiah follows the journey of documentary film makers, Crippler Cris and Master W of P.S.Y.C.H.O Productions and The Pathfinder, a man with a revenge mission against a cannibal cult in the woods of Germany. After torturing a woodland hermit for information on the cult, the three travel deep into the woods. Things go wrong quickly as Master W turns against his companions and ends up amongst the cannibals.

Splatter Comedy is a genre that I can get on board with. Films like Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead are always ranked high on my list of favourite horror films. It’s the kind of sub-genre that usually subscribes to the idea of “The wetter, the better” with buckets of blood being pumped on the screen. However it’s not as easy as all that. If it were, I’d be giving Cannibal Messiah a 10 out of 10 immediately. This film is practically drowning in gore.

cm2If you’re a fan of low budget gore films, the likes of Troma, you’re probably going to love this. You’ll definitely love it if you like cheesy films with obvious mistakes that give you a giggle. There’s continuity errors, with Master W’s hair length fluctuating wildly, a scene where a train blatantly speeds by in the secluded cannibal village, and an impaling spear that is just in someone’s arm pit. Gore flows freely and usually nonsensically, bursting forth in ridiculous quantity. All these things are selling points if this is your kind of movie.

There is two elements of this film that drag it down in my opinion though. The first is the main characters. They are so thin and uninteresting. The Pathfinder is violent and seeking revenge, Crippler Cris is paranoid, specifically about ticks, and Master W is a stoner. That is their whole character, just a small number of traits. Master W’s drug use is used to throw in some trippy visuals that stretch out the run time of the film. It’s incredibly difficult to get invested in characters that have very little personality. There’s no real journey for them other than to stumble from gory set piece to gory set piece.

cm1The second problem I have with this film is the pacing of the story. It doesn’t really flow well. The film starts awkwardly with Cris and W getting threatened by Pathfinder until they take him to find the Hermit. That’s followed by a long torture scene with flash backs and lots of exposition. It takes so long and I found myself getting bored. Then they finally set off to the woods and the film still manages to drag it’s feet. There’s plenty of gross out splatter moments but none of them really ticked my boxes.

Cannibal Messiah is the sort of film that looks like the people involved had a great time making it, that they find it hilarious. However they don’t really have the comedic talent to set up and pull off good jokes, even gory ones. It lacks the physical comedy of Evil Dead, or the scale of Brain Dead. It never feels like it’s building to anything bigger than another blood fountain of a wound. After a while we’ve seen every trick in their bag and then the yawns set in.

cm3This is the second film by P.S.Y.C.H.O Productions, and they’re making the films that they want to make, with themselves as characters. It feels like a kind of Jay and Silent Bob move, but Crippler Cris and Master W aren’t nearly as iconic. Maybe all they need is to keep making it, to build their lore. I just hope the next one is a little more exciting.


The Hours Till Daylight (2015) Review

hourstilldaylight1The Hours Till Daylight (USA, 2015)
Dir: Jon Garcia
Starring: Quinn Allan, Vannessa Vasquez, Carlos Sepulveda

Plot: Marco (Allan) has grown up with a fear of the dark. Despite the best efforts of his parents, he has never been able to shake the fear, or more specifically of what hides in the darkness. About to become a parent himself, Marco takes action to face up to the demon that plagues him, for the sake of his family.

Director Jon Garcia has a number of films under his belt, but The Hours Till Daylight is his first attempt at the horror genre. He’s taking a stab at the haunting sub-genre that has remained in vogue since Paranormal Activity. Can Garcia’s film stand out amongst all the Insidiouses, Ouijas, and Conjurings?

The first thing that stands out for The Hours Till Daylight is the casting. This is not a white Hollywood film. It focuses on a Latin American family, their community, and their beliefs when it comes to the supernatural. A mixture of superstition and Catholic upbringing. Based on Garcia’s previous films, his faith is an important influence on his work. While many films throw in some religious elements to commit to genre tropes, the demons, the exorcist priest, it feels like Garcia is much more aware of the religious significance of the imagery he is using.

hourstilldaylight2Garcia uses childhood fears and religious demons, and builds up the fear slowly. The choice of score keeps the atmosphere tense as he establishes his characters, setting the stakes that Marco is fighting for. The film also uses a lot of flashbacks to Marco’s childhood, and you can feel in these scenes that it’s not just a literal demon that Marco is combating. His fear of the dark as a child is met with the frustration of his parents. They just want him to grow out of it.

With films like The Babadook championing subtext in monsters, The Hours Till Daylight joins the trend. Marco’s battle with his demon seems to be a battle with himself, to become an adult that can raise a child. This demon that is his insecurities, that he isn’t good enough.

With this singular subtextual motivation, the film builds towards it’s final goal. At times this can be painfully slow, however the film makes up for it with a big set piece ending. The banishment ritual. It’s an impressive scene, although some of the demon effects are a little cheap looking but that’s fine for a low budget film. They’re not over-used. There’s some less than subtle religious imagery that made it feel a little preachy but otherwise it promotes positivity, that we can fight our demons.

hourstilldaylight3While there are some moments in the film that I felt were a little dull, it’s something a little different. It feels a lot more personal than the usual blockbuster horror in the cinema. It’s not full of jump scares and there’s no franchise-able monster. It’s just a creepy haunting story. That’s what will make The Hours Till Daylight stand out from the rest.


Worry Dolls aka The Devil’s Dolls (2016) Review

Worry-Dolls-Movie-Poster-Padraig-ReynoldsWorry Dolls (2016, USA)
Dir: Padraig Reynolds
Starring: Christopher Wiehl, Samantha Smith, Kennedy Brice

Out now on UK DVD from Studiocanal

Plot: After a serial killer case ends with the death of the killer, Matt (Wiehl) thinks that his job is done but it’s only just beginning. A series of killings start that match the dead killers M.O. The objects that connect the killings are a collection of worry dolls that belonged to the killer. Matt’s daughter is amongst those effected by the dolls and he must solve this mystery to save her and to end this case for good.

Following up his début feature, Rites of Spring, director Padraig Reynolds returns to the horror genre to give us a tale of supernatural violence and personal anxiety. With a title like Worry Dolls (or it’s alternative title, The Devil’s Dolls) horror fans might expect something along the lines of The Puppetmaster or Child’s Play series. Fans of killer dolls will be greatly disappointed. This is more of a cursed artefact film, like the Ring if you switched the cursed video with cursed dolls that possessed you.

What I think is the film’s greatest strength is that the dolls aren’t just a gateway for the dead killer to do some more post-mortem killing. The dolls amplify the fears and worries of those affected to violent ends. They’re not killing based on proximity to potential victims, but based on how that person relates to their worries. Worry Dolls doesn’t subvert many horror tropes, but this is definitely it’s most interesting feature.

WD_Stills01_3.17.1Talking about Worry Dolls lack of trope subversion, it does suffer from quite a few clichés that can be a bit frustrating. If you suffer from screaming fits when horror characters act painfully stupid, the appearance of the police officer at the start of the film might hurt your vocal chords. The main characters are also a little pedestrian and boring, the usual divorced couple who put aside their differences because of the supernatural force affecting their child. This is a little forgiving because it makes for good motivation in the divorced wife’s fiancé.

The film tries to make up for some of it’s clichéd storytelling by killing off certain characters that might be considered bad taste. It’s often considered a bad move for film makers to kill the dog and Reynolds runs that risk here. It has relevance to the story but it’s definitely going to upset certain audience members.

WD_Stills01_1.84.2Worry Dolls does run with an interesting premise but the delivery isn’t perfect. It has a good look, nice cinematography and plenty of gore but that isn’t enough to make it rate any higher than average. It’s just doesn’t stray far enough from the path to be memorable. I felt like I had seen these characters too many times before to really care about them. There was also three different blonde white actresses that at times it was difficult to tell which character was in the scene. Worry Dolls is worth a watch once but I can’t see myself rushing back anytime soon.


Hell Town (2016) Review

ht1Hell Town (USA, 2016)
Dir: Steve Balderson, Elizabeth Spear
Starring: Debbie Rochon, Krysten Day, Owen Lawless

Gravitas Ventures will release the film on Digital HD and Cable VOD August 23rd 2016

Plot: Presented by Debbie Rochon, Hell Town is a showcase for the recovered episode of the lost television show by the same name. The show focuses on a murder mystery between two families in a small town. One part slasher movie, one part soap opera, Hell Town brings a ridiculous mix of gore and melodrama.

Horror is often mashed up with different genres of television and cinema, and the results manage to give us a unique spin on the horror genre. Director team, Steve Balderson and Elizabeth Spear, find an untapped niche by mixing horror cinema with American soap operas. What it results in is a odd film that is more of a parody than a love letter to either genre.

The film opens up with genre regular, Debbie Rochon, doing her best as the ghoulish host. Taking inspiration from the likes of Elvira, Rochon introduces this evening’s vicious viewing. Three episodes of the show Hell Town. The use of Rochon as a host gives the television show format a little bit more credibility although it’s still quite a clunky delivery. Unlike Elvira, Rochon’s dialogue is lacking in quips and the humour often falls flat. Also the choice to use the time between episodes to advertise Rochon’s other projects feels a little cheap.

ht3Moving away from the framing device, Hell Town focuses on a Who Dunnit plotline as many characters are killed off by a mysterious killer. There is plenty of subplots thrown in too to help give motivation to the potential killers. Romances, jealousy, an inheritance up for grabs, there’s plenty to play for and plenty characters to stab through on the way. While the film offers up many characters to be the killer, some are pushed harder than others. Sometimes it results in a good red herring, but where it counts it ends up with a killer that feels a little tacked on.

The part of the film that I enjoyed the most was the various death scenes. With many kills and few repeated murder methods, Hell Town delivers highly in this department. Some of the best include a barbequing gone wrong and a gloryhole scene that definitely doesn’t go the way you think it will.

The humour of Hell Town comes from how absurd the whole thing is, mocking the over the top acting of soap operas. It’s kind of cheesy but it’s stylistic. You couldn’t have a mixture of horror and soap opera without it. Personally I didn’t find it gut-bustingly funny, but it got a chuckle here and there. The biggest laugh for me was at the very end, with the next episode preview. That preview was the best thing about the film’s format as a TV show. I was worried that the film might end on a cliff hanger on purpose, being the middle episode of a lost soap opera after all. Thankfully they didn’t but it would have been a ballsy choice if they had.

ht2Hell Town takes a risk, making a movie that’s supposed to be a TV show and in some respects it works. It’s a quirky little film but it’s a bit too goofy for my tastes. If you love horror parody TV shows like Garth Mereghi’s Dark Place, this is in a similar vein. If you like cheesy soap operas and gore, this is definitely for you.


Feed The Devil (2015) Review

ftd1Feed The Devil (USA, 2015)
Dir: Max Perrier
Starring: Jared Cohen, Ardis Barrow, Brandon Perrault

Expected UK DVD Release 31/10/2016

Plot: Desperate to make some cash and start fresh, Marcus (Cohen) and Lydia (Barrow) go out into the wilderness to find a secret stash of weed. Getting lost in the woods becomes the least of their problems when they become prey to a figure of Native American folklore.

The first horror film by writer/director Max Perrier, his second feature behind his comedy crime drama, Dead Man’s Luck. Like many other first time horror directors, Perrier goes to the woods and we watch his cast slowly get bumped off in various nasty ways. However the particular evil in this film comes from Native American roots and gives the film an uneasy racial tone. While it might not have been the intention of the film makers to have race focused on in their film, it’s hard to avoid it.

Marcus is particularly racist towards the natives, at one point calling them “Bush N******” and even when he’s helped by the natives he is dismissive and arrogant. Like most horror fans, when I see a character who is incredibly arrogant and unlikeable, I hope that the killer will pick them off quick. Sadly I wasn’t so fortunate as the other members of the small cast are picked off and leave Marcus to fight the evil. It’s hard to be on the side of the racist white guy fighting a figure of Native American culture.

ftd2While the film is well shot with decent cinematography, the film often drags with slow pacing. Marcus and his friends wander around the woods for too long without explanation of the danger they’re in for so long before the audience gets a scrap of exposition, all the while enduring Marcus.

It’s often been debated if a main character in a film needs to be likeable for the film to be good and while I don’t believe they have to be, I think it helps. The film starts off by showing Marcus’s terrible home life, his abusive mother, and his plans to escape that life. However just because someone has hardships it doesn’t make them a good person and it failed to make me care about Marcus. I didn’t want him to succeed and it made the film disappointing as he continued his survival.

If the point of the film was to show white Americans as dismissive against Native American culture and how horrible it is, this film succeeded. It doesn’t feel like that was the intention, instead it’s just another arrogant horror protagonist getting himself into danger by ignoring the warnings of people who know better than him.

ftd3The Native American folklore feels like an after thought, that it could have been any kind of evil in those woods, but this felt like something a little different than the usual Catholic demons, or feral Big Foot. A lot of people might watch this and see it for what is on the screen and not read anything into it what so ever. Sadly I watched it and saw White American culture exerting dominance over Native American culture and I’m not cool with that.


Model Hunger (2016) Review

modelhunger1Model Hunger (USA, 2016)
Dir: Debbie Rochon
Starring: Tiffany Shepis, Lynn Lowry, Suzi Lorraine

Plot: Deep in her suburban neighbourhood, Ginny (Lowry) preys on the young girls of the area. Full of bitter rage from years of insecurity and exploitation, Ginny has become a violent cannibal who preaches the sins of body shaming. A failed modelling career has her fixated on the “twigs”, the skinny girls who are buying into the system that destroyed her. Her violent spree hits a bump when new neighbour, Debbie (Shepis) becomes suspicious of Ginny’s actions.

Model Hunger is the directorial début of Debbie Rochon, a horror icon from her years in the genre. Clearly taking inspiration from the independent films from Troma that she has starred in, including Tromeo and Juliet, this a small budget horror film that answers to no one other than the film makers. It’s a film with a message, tackling issues on body shaming, a very feminist message despite the screenplay being written by James Mogart.

The message of this film is the strongest element of the film, however it’s not immediately clear what that message is for much of the film’s duration. The film’s villain, Ginny and it’s hero, Debbie are separated for the majority of the film, with a relationship similar to Hitchcock’s The Rear Window. Debbie’s slowly growing aware of Ginny’s crimes but remains only a spectator until the final act. Ginny is the main focus of the film and the audience is often privvy to the thoughts running through her head as she chooses her victims. We hear all the venomous thoughts as she tears down her victim’s characters, accusing them of being sexually promiscuous, judgemental, and brainless. It’s uncertain if we’re supposed to be on Ginny’s side because she acts like a champion against unrealistic body expectations and the male gaze. Yet she’s a murderous cannibal.

modelhunger2Model Hunger features a television show called Suzi’s Secret, a shopping network channel that preaches for plus-size women. Ginny’s obsessed with the show, despite not being a plus-sized woman. The host Suzi (Lorraine) goes on about the hardships, that she wants to feel sexy but still eat, and how she makes clothes for “real women with real curves.” Suzi spreads hate about skinny women and continues the cycle of women hating women. In an abrupt change of character, Suzi delivers the line that confirms that this is what the whole film is about, that women hating women is as toxic as the men who police women’s bodies, and that it needs to stop. It’s a little out of character for Suzi as she has been going on about how all the skinny women are not real women but it’s good clarification of the film’s message.

The character of Debbie is a little hollow by comparison to Ginny, although the do attempt to give her a bit of depth through tragedy, an abusive mother giving her body issues, problems with mental illness, yet it’s hard to see her motivations for getting involved with Ginny’s murders. Debbie is a little too self-involved at times, particularly the moment where she slams the door in the face of a young Jehovah’s Witness girl and watches her walk next door to Ginny’s house, the woman she suspects is murdering people. It’s an aspect of Debbie’s personality that made her seem unrealistic, but this film is pretty far from realistic.

When speaking of the realism of this film, it’s never really explained why Ginny has become a cannibal. It’s good for gore but there’s no motivation for it. The murdering I can understand, it’s misguided rage, although even that is a little over the top. Ginny’s suffering at the hands of sleazy men in the modelling and fashion industry is more likely to make her hate men than women, but that’s misguided rage.

modelhunger3Despite the lack of realism, the message of the film is important. However the delivery of that message was hard to draw out under all the gore and sometimes feels secondary to the gore. I can’t help but feel that this might be due to the writer, James Mogart having not live with the constant body shaming that women go through. Rochon has been able to guide the message with her directing but it still lacks the focus that could have made this a gruesome social commentary.


Killer Friends (2015) Short Film Review

killerfriends1Killer Friends (2015, USA)
Dir: Zach Noe Towers & Tina Cabone
Starring: Zach Noe Towers, Jenna-Lee Carreiro, Dave Racki, Peggy Sinnott

Killer Friends is a short film from directors Tina Cabone and Zach Noe Towers. Towers also takes on the writing of the short as well as starring as the film’s antagonist, Scott. Killer Friends tells the tale of a small group of friends, Scott, Jill (Carreiro), Bryan (Racki), and Heather (Sinnott). The rest of the group, specifically Jill, have gotten sick of Scott. His toxicity as a friend has reached unbearable levels and the solution to the Scott problem is to take him out into the woods to kill him. While the others conspire against him, Scott remains unaware and unfazed due to his own self-importance.

It’s the kind of plot that could be written off as too extreme, bordering on ridiculous, but Towers manages to take Scott to dizzying heights of annoyance which makes the murder justifiable (at least for comedy’s sake). However Scott also manages to have moments of sweetness that keep us balanced on the tightrope of morality. The would-be killers are often thrown off guard by either Scott’s sweetness or his outbursts of private information that could possibly turn these friends against each other. It all results in a group of characters that are deeply sympathetic, either in the desperation to get rid of the problematic Scott, or in their reluctance to hurt him due to years of friendship.

The short is definitely more comedy than horror with all acts of violence happening off-screen. Also the method of killing is more akin to a roadrunner cartoon rather than Friday the 13th. A botched attempt to burning Scott with flammable liquid disguised as bug spray, leaves the characters with comical charring rather than anything truly horrific, which suits the tone but it could have been fun with a little more gross-out effects. Also the final blow happens off-screen which was a little disappointing as a gore fan, I would have liked to have seen a fake-blood money shot.

killerfriends2Apart from minor disagreements on the gore, Killer Friends is a very enjoyable short film and I think that Zach Noe Towers knocked it out of the park, both as a first time writer/director, but also as an actor. I can only hope that this does well around the festivals and that we might see more of Towers’ work, maybe even a feature horror/comedy.


Tall Men (2016) Review

rsz_mv5by2nhmmmzy2etyja4yy00mgq2lthlndqtzjriodk3nzfiyza4l2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzuzmzyxnti_v1_sy1000_cr007261000_al_Tall Men (USA, 2016)
Dir: Jonathan Holbrook
Starring: Dan Crisafulli, Kay Whitney, Richard Garcia

Plot: Terrence (Crisafulli) is horribly, deeply in debt. Looking for a way out he files for bankruptcy. For a while it looks like his beginning to stabilise, but when a mysterious credit card company, known only as The Card, lures him in his life spirals out of control. His life falls apart and he’s terrorised by strange, giant figures in the night. Terrence is back in debt but it seems they want more than his money.

Back in 2004, writer/director, Jonathan Holbrook released the film, Customer 152. His first credited film and first feature length, the 2004 version of Customer 152 obviously meant a lot to Holbrook. Returning to the story twelve years later with more experience from working on short films and television, Holbrook gives the audience his vision of what he wanted this story to be. A financial horror for a generation plagued by malicious bankers and economic chaos.

Tall Men focuses on an evil that most can relate to, the credit card. Most of us have one and more than a few of us have treated it as a genie, here to grant wishes and banish our problems. Like most genies, it twists our fortune into misery through interest rates and harsh repayments. The film begins with it’s protagonist, Terrence, already crippled by debt as well as mental disabilities. Crisafulli does a great job as the often distraught Terrence, showing his anxiety through many visual tics. The physicality of Crisafulli’s acting sells us Terrence as the sympathetic victim, but also as a damaged individual who might not be entirely lucid. This also manifests in some nightmare sequences full of bizarre imagery.

cust3One image in particular that spans the majority of the film is the visual of the Tall Men, the demonic debt collectors. Gigantic men in business suits that lurk around Terrence’s house at night. Their physical appearance might draw comparison from some viewers as similar to internet horror meme, Slender Man, a character that is starting to emerge in television and cinema. However the Tall Men differ from Slender Man regardless of their similar appearance. They use their size, which seems to be constantly expanding bigger in every on-screen appearance, like Terrence’s expanding debts. They are crushing him, both literally and metaphorically.

The plot of Tall Men is one that likes to make unexpected twists when you start to think you know where it’s going. Holbrook does the leg work to set up enough clues that his twists make sense, Terrence’s past is kept a mystery for the majority of the film. It’s unclear why he’s in debt in the first place and these are all used to keep the audience on it’s toes. However when it’s all out in the open, I felt a little underwhelmed, or at least that certain details of the whys and hows were still absent. The plot falls somewhere between crazy conspiracy and supernatural evil, not exactly a satisfying fit but still acceptable.

cust2Holbrook delivers us a film that is unique from the popcorn horror films that monopolise the cinema, a different kind of horror film. It’s a stylish indie film that is clearly deeply important to Holbrook and hopefully with the completion of this second attempt at the story, he can focus on something grander.


Beyond Redemption (2015) Short Film Review

bred1Beyond Redemption (UK, 2015)
Dir: Andrew Gilbert
Starring: Sophie Anderson, Jamie Chambers, Anthoula Drummond, Carl Russell, Rudy Barrow

Plot: Jake (Chambers) is plagued with guilt, his brother is dead and his dreams are filled with violence. His girlfriend, Elise (Drummond) is concerned by his nightmares, but he won’t talk to her. Jake has started to stalk and kill the men he sees in his dreams, believing that they have committed horrible acts of violence. Jake seeks to redeem himself through these acts of justice. He wants to redeem himself and free himself from hell.

The third short from writer/director, Andrew Gilbert, it’s been doing the rounds at the festivals, being shown at such festivals as Horror-On-Sea, Indie Horror Film Festival, and Depth of Field International Film Festival. At nearly 30 minutes, it’s quite a sizeable short, weaving a tale of guilt and vigilante justice.

Beyond Redemption is quite an ambitious short especially when it comes to the size of it’s cast. Jake interacts with a lot of people through the visions in his dreams, his hellish nightmares, and his actual life. It’s the kind of story that either needs to be developed into a feature length, or cut down to a more concise short.

bred3I have to admit for the majority of the short that Jake was a hitman feeling guilt for the lives he had taken. I was mentally comparing it to Ben Wheatley’s Kill List. It’s only when the film delivers some blatant exposition that brought me to Jake’s actual motivation with his dream powers. After that point I was more onboard with the story, it was something more much more compelling than what I had previously assumed was an underwhelming hitman movie.

When I thought it was just a hitman movie I was much more critical of the short. The production values and the acting aren’t that good, which is understandable for a low budget short, but gave the film the impact of a particularly gory episode of Hollyoaks. The lighting and camera work didn’t feel dynamic enough in the early scenes which gave it that soap opera feel. It’s only once the film starts to get a bit strange with it’s nightmare hell dreams and it’s psychic vigilantism that the film starts to get interesting so if the opening could have been condensed down I would have got to the good stuff quicker.

bred2Beyond Redemption is not a bad short, it’s just an ambitious short. It manages to get across what it would like to be but doesn’t quite get there. Like other short films, it’s a promise to make something better. Like the early short film versions of films like Saw, it’s a way to sell a possible feature length version, and I’m hoping it succeeds in that respect. The ideas are there, they just need to be fleshed out a bit.