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Tethered (2017) Short Film Review

rsz_tethered_teaser_poster_officialTethered (Short 2017)

Director: Daniel Robinette
Writers: Jeff Cox, Daniel Robinette
Stars: Jared Cook, Grace Mumm and Kayla Stuhr
Runtime: 12min

Synopsis (from IMDb): “Abandoned by his mother, Solomon is left to live in isolation while abiding by three rules. Having grown accustomed to his routine, he begins to realize the rules may be a hindrance to a life-changing discovery.”

Tethered is the next short by the talented team over at 4 Leagues Media. Following up from Drawn to Fear (2016) and The Time Will Come (2016) (which I’ve previously reviewed both favourably). Don’t be alarmed there is no bias here, I must uphold my critical integrity!

As mentioned above in the brief synopsis Tethered follows a boy named Solomon. He lives out in the wilderness and must hunt and trap to survive in the harsh conditions. He is guided by three rules bestowed to him by his mother. He physically tethers himself to the cabin, (he is of fixed abode!) so he doesn’t wander and get lost, given his ailments and the condition that he is in. These are all subtly uncovered over the course of the early stages of the film.
For a 12min film, it seemed fairly fleshed out, more than most short films of this duration. The pacing was spot on for the story that was being told. I’ve come to know the style of filmmaking. If I watched blindly I believe I would be able to guess and say “yes, this is a Robinette I’m watching.”

rsz_tethered_tapeWhere I felt this short lost its footing was for the climax scene. Thematically it felt out of character with the rest of the film. I have had the opportunity to discuss this with Dan after the fact and my suspicions were confirmed with him as to why certain narrative decisions were made. But I will let you, the potential viewer, to make up your own mind.

I’ve been told I was the first outsider to have laid eyes on Tethered and what a pretty sight indeed. From a purely technical standpoint, the film cannot be faulted. The acting, cinematography, the location and basically everything that fills the screen oozes character, detail and style. The story was captivating and I was sucked right into the world in which Solomon inhabits. Years of backstory conveyed by both visual and audio cues. This is a testament again to the continued quality 4 Leagues Media manages to produce. For me it has been 3/3 that have knocked it out of the park in this very competitive arena of short films.

rsz_tethered_solomonVerdict: Not the end of Robinette’s tether

8.8/10

Listen to my chat with Dan Robinette below on The Bazaar Cast:
https://soundcloud.com/thefearmerchant/e001-daniel-robinette-writerdirector

The Time Will Come (2016) Short Film Review

twc1The Time Will Come (Short 2016)

Director: Daniel Robinette
Writers: Jeff Cox, Daniel Robinette
Stars: Drew Matthews, Brett David Stelter
Runtime: 12min

Synopsis (from IMDb): “A tale of two people. One carries the burden of loss with the potential for retribution while the other seems to possess an uncanny ability of insight. A dark journey of self-reflection begins when their paths cross.”

The Time Will Come is the third title released from Dan Robinette the talented 4 Leagues Media. Departing slightly from their grounding in horror; in Dan’s own words this is their arthouse short.

We follow two men tangentially until they cross paths. One man, Kevin (Drew Matthews) we learn is suffering great grief, the other (Brett David Stelter) a vagabond of sorts who just so happens upon Kevin en route to has heavy laden destination. The bulk of the short is set in the car following the two’s conversation. It’s this exchange fleshes out the story and motivations of these characters, building to a nice climax. This short goes on to explore darker more relatable themes than the previous Drawn to Fear. The Time Will Come is yet another bite sized treat from this very talented team. Everyone who has experienced loss or heartbreak will get something out of this film.

twc2With bite sized films comes bite sized commentary lest I run the risk of ruining the experience for any potential viewers out there. The Time Will Come is masterfully crafted with a very high production value for such a simplistic set up. Acting was engaging and most importantly believable. The plot is nothing we haven’t seen before but its execution is where it shines as the character’s chemistry is fantastic. 4 Leagues are building up their demo reel and I feel are ready to tackle a feature début. Go seek this out if you’ve been on the edge of the short film rabbit hole and dive right in. Twelve minutes is something you’ll never regret losing!

Verdict: The Time Is Now

8/10

Drawn To Fear (2016) Short Film Review

drawn1Drawn to Fear (Short 2016)
Director: Daniel Robinette
Writers: Jeff Cox, Daniel Robinette, Aaron Sorgius and Jeremy Tassone
Starring: Courtney Lakin, Jeremy Tassone and Reagan Gales
Runtime: 7min

Synopsis (from IMDb): “A woman has procured a rare book under strange circumstances. Little does she know that the book has a life of its own; drawing out the fears of those who possess it. She struggles to figure out the meaning of the book before it’s too late.”

Horror shorts, I love them and I hate them. They are such a mixed bag you never know what to expect, but you get comfort in the knowledge that not too much time will be drained from you if it turns out to be a steaming pile of manure. Conversely the limited runtime you mind find yourself itching for the full feature to be picked up by some media giant because it simply blew your mind. Drawn to Fear constitutes the latter.

Gaining some traction on the festival circuit, Drawn to Fear (too inappropriate to abbreviate to “DTF” *wink*) is currently without a deep pool of critical observations. Having no less than four writers for this 7min extravaganza you would indeed expect great things. And great is what we receive.

We are introduced to Hope (Courtney Lakin) an attractive girl-next-door type. After a steamy shower and returning downstairs, she pulls a tattered looking notebook from a box and flicks it open; not knowing in the slightest what is to come. I really don’t want to say much too much more about the plot, even the synopsis gave away too much as it is. Drawn to Fear is a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. Almost like a mini horror anthology, so many different horror tropes are all tastefully implemented, centred around the mystic of the strange journal; itself a cross between Mr. Babadook and The Necronomicon of sorts. Lakin is perfect in her role, just looking innocently sexy and in distress, a clear throwback to 80’s slashers. Camera work is also very adaptive, from tense close-ups to Raimiesque shaky POV chase cams from The Evil Dead (1981), all inside a cramped house.

drawn2In conclusion, Drawn to Fear is a near perfect horror short. Although not necessarily adding anything new to the genre, the skilful craft behind making a homogeneous blend from many sub-genres has to be admired. The team of writers paid off on this one. Some great special effects also adding to the charm, the credit roll alone is worth watching. Go out and watch this as soon as it is available, I can’t recommend it enough.

Verdict: Nothing to Fear

9/10