Thursday, April 21, 2016

End of the Road (Short Film Review)

I’m a short film junkie. I love em. I wish there was a better way to market these things to make physical release more lucrative for distributors (and cramming them together as anthologies doesn’t count). I was glad to get the opportunity to check out a werewolf short film called End of the Road. Werewolf pictures on a limited budget are a tricky business. They typically are effects driven from the transformation to the look of the wolf itself to the gore that ensures post-transformation. To do one of these properly is a daring pursuit that requires a skilled makeup person, good choice of camera angles and lighting to protect any flaws in the wolf costume or… computer generated lupine… (fuck computer generated werewolves).

The runtime with credits is just over eleven minutes, and End of the Road fits a story into that period of time well. There’s the diner waitress with a big heart that takes in a homeless fella with an injury and then suffers the wrath of her own positivity. In the the brief time we spend with our characters we get to enjoy Tatum Langton’s good performance and watch as Daniel Van Thomas shows us his secret side. The supporting cast surrounding these two main players are quite good with some humorous moments that offer a segue between night and day.

The transformation works because it is mostly off camera. You obviously know what’s happening because you get a brief time elapse look at some hands turning into wolfier hands and the obvious nod to the full moon. From there it's all camera angles and choices of points of focus, lighting and brief glimpses at the baddie rather than full on spreads of a guy in a wolf suit. This is quite effective especially when we get more expository views of the hairy fella and can see the budget showing. It’s the proper way to do a wolf pic on a budget and the greatest lesson we can learn from 50’s monster pictures that scare even though you barely get a glimpse at the creature.

On the other side of the coin the story doesn’t move the genre forward and you don’t get much in the way of violent kills or a badass wolf in full view. There’s little to set this short aside from other wolf genre movies save for some very camera work, good performances and it’s ability to give us a werewolf without actually shoving the wolf in our face. That’s not to say it’s bad. It just doesn’t shoot you with a silver bullet. It’s entertaining and a fine way to spend 11 minutes. It also shows us just what J. Spencer can do within a limited budget. I definitely want to check out the next project.

I won’t say why, but I love the neon sign at the end of the movie. It’s a nice touch.

You can hop over to the UnManned Media site and support this release now:

From the UnManned Media:

This character-focused flick -- a project born from grassroots effort and an intense love of the genre -- follows a small-town waitress (Tatum Langton of Grey's Anatomy and others) whose kindness toward a mysterious drifter (American Genius and Revelation Trail's Daniel Van Thomas) unleashes a vicious and calculative werewolf upon the colorful population of a backwoods diner.

Betsy, a small-town waitress, offers a warm meal to an enigmatic drifter in a rundown diner. Little does she know she’s let a vicious and calculative werewolf loose on the diner’s colorful population.

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