Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: The Collective Vol. 3

It’s baaaaaaaaaaack. The Collective is bringing you a third volume. That means ten more ten minute shorts from a variety if indie filmmakers. This time there are two unifying factors. As usual, there’s a theme all of the shorts interpret in their own ways. This time it’s “10 minutes to live.” The new wrinkle is that each of the shorts in Volume Three features the work of a female writer or director. Who says horror is a boy’s club? These gals beg to differ!
So how is it? First of all, it contains what I think is the best short out of the entire series so far. Secondly, well, remember in the review of Collective 1 when I talked about the “three ring circus” aspect where if you didn’t dig something, there was plenty more you would? That applied to this one for me. It’s definitely the most art-house flavored of the three. In the first two volumes, the films generally fell comfortably within the horror realm. This one is much broader in their interpretation of “horror.” That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this one, or that you wouldn’t enjoy it even more than I did. There just happened to be a couple on here that weren’t really my bucket of entrails. I also don’t want to give the impression that I don’t like art-house style horror. I just need a heavy horror quotient to even it out, and some of the more experimental films here are also some of the less horror oriented. Wait, why am I talking about the couple that I didn’t like? There is some outstanding stuff in this compilation. Did I mention that the best out of the series is on here? I dunno, I just felt it was more uneven than the first two. I could make a joke about the female Collective being the one that wildly swings from one extreme to the other, but that might alienate my legions of adoring female readers. Lets just get on with the review before I get myself in trouble…
1.Mysterious Mansion Productions – Conclusion
Amazing. It’s a very close competition, but I think this just might be the best film out of the first 3 Collective volumes combined, and that’s really saying something. It’s phenomenal. I think it tells the most complete story. Four people go to a “self-termination facility.” With that simple premise, it manages to develop all 4 characters quickly and effectively. It also pulls off a similar yet distinct story arc with each of them, which is a miracle for a flick of this length. The casting was perfect, my favorite being Basket Case’s Kevin Van Hentenryck as a tortured ex-junkie. All of the acting was great, the sets were outstanding, and that “pop goes the weasel” theme song was creepy as hell. It all came together brilliantly in this one.
2. Karmic Courage Productions - Home Security
Robert works for a home security company, and has a habit of taking things a little too far to drum up business. This one had a nice Tales From the Crypt-ish feel and twist to it. If I say much more I’ll end up in spoiler territory, so just know that this was another winner.
3. One Stepp at a Time Productions – Suffer Well
A hearse driver goes to pick up a body found in a dumpster, but there just might be a dark secret behind how it got there, and where it’s going. You can usually tell that you’re in for some bizarre stuff when it starts with a Salvador Dali quote, wouldn’t you say? I’m not a fan of this one’s disjointed storytelling style from a narrative standpoint, but the flick does have a nice visual flare. It also features some pretty nice hearses.
4. Pants Cannon Media – He Who Watches
If you could go back from your deathbed and change the course of your life, would you? That’s the question Laura must answer when she is presented an opportunity by a mysterious figure that watches her from the shadows. This is a cool little variation on the classic “Faustian bargain” tale. The man who plays the mysterious figure looks VERY familiar. I’m not sure, but I think he’s a horror host. Anyway, this one plays like a dark morality tale full of symbolism, and it succeeds.
5. Jabb Pictures – Pact
Another strong entry under the Jabb label. This one is actually kinda touching. It tells the story of a “Don’t Fear the Reaper” style suicide pact between two lovers. It’s shot in a very atmospheric style. There’s no dialog to speak of, as everything takes place under an acoustic ballad called “Follow You Into the Dark,” which was a PERFECT song choice. I would have switched the first and second halves of the film and told the story linearly (is that even a word?), but that’s just me, and the film is great the way it is. Now that’s romance!
6. ToeTag Pictures – Stay
The infamous ToeTag crew gets in on the party, and they give us a tale of an abused woman who bakes up a surprise for her psycho boyfriend. When you hear ToeTag you think gore, but they went the other direction with this one. The two performances are awesome and carry this one, which is a good thing, because the story does feel sorta drawn out. With the wrong casting, it could have been a disaster. I would really like to see these two characters (and actors) revisited in a different setting. A little more action or one and a half less minutes would have kept the pace up a little more, but it’s still very enjoyable.
7. Death Hug Films – Snapped
Of course, the first thing anyone does before they watch any volume of The Collective is think “what would I do with this theme?” That’s what you do too, right? Anyway, I had an idea of what I would have done with “10 minutes to live,” and low and behold, it was almost exactly identical to what Death Hug did. That’s still one of the best studio names I’ve ever heard by the way. This is the story of a murder that’s been cut into one-minute chunks, shuffled around, and presented to you. I loved this one. I dig how they gave you 8 first, then 1,2,4,6 etc and filled in the gaps. It was like a jigsaw puzzle of a film. This concept would be hard to keep up with in a longer format, so it works beautifully here. Great stuff. Bravo.
8. Chanemmabelle Pictures – The Key
In a trance/dream, Sofie’s dead grandfather tells her how to find a secret hidden since her childhood. She’s not the only one after the secret though; a mysterious organization wants it too. This one played a lot like a teaser trailer for a longer film. Overall it was pretty good, except it had those pesky audio mix problems. In the first scene between Sofie and her grandfather, sometimes we can’t hear them over the fountain. From shot to shot the loudness of said fountain fluctuated wildly. It’s disjointing and seriously detracts from the film. It’s a damn shame too, because this flick had everything else going for it.
9. Silence in the Dead of Night Productions – Jog
We see through the eyes of a person jogging who comes across bodies strewn about. This is what happens when you have a killer concept, but you base a film on that concept rather than using the concept to tell a story. I liked that it was silent until the person put on their earphones, which was a nice touch to emphasize the first person nature of the flick. Then, we wait for something to happen as we follow the jog. When we see the bodies, we get intrigued…then there’s no payoff. There is a difference between an ambiguous ending and just stopping out of nowhere “deus ex machina” style. Like I said, it’s a nifty concept, but it just went nowhere.
10.Spiral Filmworks – Palindromist
A woman walks the streets of a city at night, briefly stopping in a bar. As dawn approaches, she walks to the shoreline and dies. This is one that I’m sure a lot of people will dig. A lot of people are enthralled with art-house cinema. Sorry, but in film school I got an assfull of art-house. That’s not to say this isn’t good, it features some of the best-conceived shots and camera work of the whole series. It’s just not my cup of blood at all. I need a spoonful of horror to help the art-house pretension go down. Jason Hoover and Spiral Filmworks have skirted the edges of the genre since the first Collective, giving us a slaughterhouse footage mashup (which is horrific in its own way) and science fiction (which is horror’s fraternal twin), and they were both excellent. There isn’t even a hint of horror in this one. This is actually the first short out of all 3 volumes that I watched and wondered, “What the hell is this doing here?” It seems very out of place in a “horror” collection. If you’re a big fan of this type of cinema, you’ll probably dig it. If you’re a horror fan, maybe not so much.
The Collective delivers another awesome assortment of indie goodness. The ladies brought it. Honestly, after reviewing all three volumes of The Collective that are currently available, and of course you reading all three reviews (ahem), what can I say that you don’t already know? You know that I respect the hell out of indie filmmakers who prove that the good stuff these days certainly isn’t that mainstream, big budget crap at the multiplex. You know that the filmmakers in The Collective are talented. You know that there’s something here for all tastes. You know that these short flicks are entertaining. I mean, what more could you want? You could want more Collective, that’s what you could want. Well, word is that Volume 4 is coming out in July. I know I’m looking forward to it. One and a half severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out. All three volumes are available HERE. Support independent horror!

1 comment:

Jason Keith Hembree said...

The Collective Vol. 4 is on its way, and I hear it's going to be chock full of filmic goodness! Keep an eye out!

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