Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: The Collective Vol. 2

The Collective is back with another round of indie horror madness. For those who missed the Collective Part 1 REVIEW, here’s how this works. We have 10 minute shorts by… you know what? I’m gonna let the narration over the DVD menu handle this one.
“Welcome to The Collective Volume 2. Inside you will find 10 short films. Each film was made by a different independent filmmaker. All 10 films center around the same object; a small, plain cardboard box. It was up to each filmmaker to find a unique and interesting way to utilize such an unassuming object. You will see that a huge budget is not required to make a great film, only a huge imagination.”
You got that? Good. On to the movies…
1.Liberty or Death Productions – Fertility 2.0
When a couple is unable to conceive, the man takes a chance and orders a revolutionary treatment called fertility 2.0, but it quickly proves to be more than he bargained for. With its black and white look, expressionistic cinematography, and biomechanical elements, this one kind of had the air of an American “Tetsuo” to me. That’s not to say it’s derivative of that flick though, it’s quite original. The soundtrack is used well, and the visuals are compelling. This was a great way to kick off this collection.
2. Red Panic Button Films – Illusion
Dakota Meyer is back in the director’s chair, this time at the ripe old age of (I think) 14. His contribution to Collective 1 was good, and this one is even better. A woman sees a small cardboard box atop a mailbox, but thinks nothing of it. When the box begins to appear other places, she starts to worry. When it begins taunting her, however, she just might crack. Besides the direction, the other thing that stands out is a great performance from lead actress Michelle Sheilds, who has the potential to be a future horror star. Another strong entry from the boy wonder.
3. Graphik 13 Films – Snapcase
Mason opens a mysterious box that causes him to go “snapcase” and take out everyone on his “people who have it coming” list. This time, it seems he might have picked the wrong house. This is an all out horror mayhem romp with more of an old school feel than most of the other Collective films. The final group he encounters is a great collection of characters that I’d like to spend some more time with. My favorite moment was the tune he was whistling post-murder. It’s one of those “only real horror fans will catch it” jokes. That gave me a good laugh. Nice touch. Add in a metal soundtrack and some chainsaw action, and SOC is a happy guy.
4. Grave Opus Films – It Crawls Back In
A man digs up a box and begins to be haunted by visions of a burlap sack masked figure. It’s hard to build suspense in 10 minutes, but this flick manages to do it. The pace is perfect. The acting is good, and the hallucination scenes have a good otherworldly feel to them. There is some imagery that reminded me of a couple of 70’s euro-horror movies that I couldn’t put my finger on. It was also one of the few that actually showed us what was in the box.
5. Death Hug Films – I didn’t see a title on this one.
I love that name. Death Hug. Anyway, this was my favorite of Volume 2. A bullied kid digs up a box with a peephole. When he looks inside, he sees an alternate reality where the bully gets bullied and vengeance is his. This one was great. When the kid is transported into his fantasy world, I like the fact that it looks like something a kid might construct. The repetition of a certain line is very effective. I found it hilarious, but I have a weird sense of humor. This one captures the imagination of the child perfectly. It’s almost a feel good flick about interrogation and revenge if that makes any sense. By the way, I’ve called up both friends I watched it with since then and repeated “the line” over and over until they hung up on me. I couldn’t help myself.
6. Susie Does Horror – 2 Guys One Box
Two men kidnap a hooker and torment her in a hotel room before exchanging her (and $199) for a mysterious box to use in a ritual. This one rocked. It was shot well, the makeup was good, the story flowed well, and the acting was good in general, but one thing really stood out…John Link. I love this guy! You might remember him from a bunch of Seduction Cinema flicks. I was pleasantly surprised to see him pop up here, and he was awesome. Link was absolutely perfect for the role. EC3 Joe and I decided that the best way to describe him is a mixture of the box keeper from Hellraiser and a Rip Torn from hell. He brought this already cool short to a whole new level. Plus, Vanessa Romanelli, who played the hooker, is damn hot, and that never hurts.
7. Quatro Venti Scott – Exile
A man who killed his entire family now rots away in a strange institution where a therapist tries a new technique involving the box. This one had a couple of GREAT lines (the Charles Bronson line had us cracking up), an interesting setting, and some good performances, but it was marred by one problem that I actually see in a lot of low budget films. It’s something I brought up in my Collective 1 review, and it will come up again in the Collective 3. It’s a fairly simple element that low budget filmmakers could drastically improve the quality of their films by paying more attention to, and that’s the audio mix. When the therapist and the inmate are talking, you can’t hear a damn word he says. It’s so uneven it’s maddening, because the film succeeds in grabbing your interest, only to lose it when you can’t make out the dialog. So you crank the volume to hear him, but then the therapist speaks and blows your eardrums out. I liked this one, but the audio problems threatened to ruin it. The song over the credits was pretty funny though, and made me pull that old “I can’t stay mad at you” thing.
8. Jabb Pictures – Boundary
A serial killer moves into a new area and starts getting ominous notes from another predator staking his claim to the territory. The lead actor did a great job and the woodland setting lent a good mood to the proceedings. The close up plastic bag shots were nice. Another killer little flick from Jabb.
9. So-So Pix – Keepsake
A man accidentally ran a little girl over 10 years ago. Now he’s paid for his crimes and wants to start a new life, but someone won’t let him. Let me get this out of the way first; that car hit looked terrible. Ok, now we can get into how good this one was. So-So, I know I was hard on you about “Snow Angel,” but you won me back over with this. That chase through the house was extremely well shot. The acting was phenomenal. I also think this was the best use of the box from any of the entries. Solid filmmaking.
10. Spiral Filmworks – Pulse
We’re going Sci-fi in this one. A man works tirelessly creating a box to generate time travel wormholes, but what will happen when it’s time to test his device? This was damn good. The inner monologue was incredibly well written and performed, he sounded like a man who was on the precipice of the discovery he had driven himself to near madness seeking. The mood set was palpable, and they made the perfect choice of background songs in “The Day The World Went Away” by…wait a minute...Local 13? What the hell? Anyway, it would have been easy to make both the performance and the ending more over the top and less understated and subtle, and it would have been a mistake. It’s perfect just the way it is. This was Joe’s favorite of the collection.
Wow. I thought Jabb was going to have a hard time coming up with a fitting successor to volume one, but they sure as hell managed. I also didn’t realize what a big happy, crazy, possibly incestuous family The Collective is. A LOT of the same names (Particularly Hoover, Meyer, and Feaster) seem to pop up in a lot of the credits. Hmmm. Anyway, it’s a hard call, but if you put a gun to my head and made me pick, this one would have to be my favorite of the three. I’m not going to bother ranking these shorts in order, because there’s not a weak link in the collection. For those like me who love independent filmmaking, The Collective Vol. 2 is a must own. Two severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out. It’s available at the Jabb Pictures website HERE.

1 comment:

Alex Jowski said...

The only other thing I've seen John Link in was "Playmate of the Apes" and he was terrible in it. I didn't know he actually did any other work - work he was actually good in.

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