Witch Hunt, Review by Case Wright


Oof

I know many of you wonderful readers must think that I’m rooting for failure. I really want artists to do a good job and not be terrible. The short film is the farm team for many writers, directors, and actors. It forces you to have a clear idea, vibrant characters, be economical with your dialogue, and how to show not tell. This short was 8 minutes and change and it was awesome for the first four minutes. Then…..

The film has a great hook: without any dialogue, we see that the MC is a Twitter troll. He gets a knock at the door. She’s a pilgrim at the door and he proceeds to creep on her in at least three ways. This is a good setup. Then, a witch hunter from the past appears at the creep’s door with an arrest warrant. I’m getting a great twilight zone feel.

The artist shifts gears with a twist that it’s two of his Internet victims in Party City outfits who want to hang him. Then, they hang him. This is so anti-climatic. I get that he murdered their reputations so they murder him IRL. I could see this happening. If someone is recording someone to make them infamous, I could see someone thinking- well I might as well kill this guy. We always work under the assumption that people will play by the rules. This is a stupid way to be because we have obvious examples that it’s not true i.e. Road Rage.

The reveal didn’t pop the narrative suspense balloon with a bang, it deflated it … slowly and sadly. It was more fun for the pilgrims to be ghosts summoned for revenge than two people with a grudge who would be easily caught. Maybe….Maybe, it could have worked if it were clearer through a scene or two what this man had done that warranted his murder. The heroine did mumble something about what he did, but it was rushed exposition. It did not feel justified.

The writer grasped the idea that a payoff is critical in a story and especially a short, but to have a payoff – you need a pay-in. We did get the idea that the MC was a jerk, BUT hanging a man on his porch and seeing his asphyxiated face was not earned. Revenge stories are great, but the target has to be more than a jerk. We need to be clear with a slow burn that this man had harmed the killers so greatly that we agree with them that this guy needed killing. It felt unfair, not disturbing. It felt awkward and disappointing.

It’s a shame because the writer has some talent, but not enough.

The Sky, Review by Case Wright (Dir. Matt Sears)


Matt Sears only creates shorts, therefore, I am primed to like this creator. The Sky takes the Alien invasion/destruction genre and compresses it to two ordinary friends who are going to watch it end. The short brushed up a little too close to the Cardinal Sin of making a pitch masquerading as a short. I do give him a pass on this because it did deliver on the apocalypse.

Ellie and Victoria are old friends who are salt of the earth archetypes. Ellie has a string of boyfriends and is on the outs with her mom. Victoria doesn’t want to die alone. They decide to drink the British version of Two Buck Chuck, do shrooms, and watch it all end. Ellie’s mom tries to reconnect with her for the final moments, but she is on a pier somewhere not nearby. It is revealed that somehow Victoria contrived to prevent Ellie from spending the end of the world with her instead of having a reconciliation during this lovely Gotterdammerung.

Ellie leaves Victoria to die alone as she is hallucinating on shrooms. We are not sure whether or not she actually sees her mother, but we do see them both die. This film was made during COVID; so, it has an out with a whimper feel to it. I have not seen Matt Sears’ other shorts, but this is a Stephen King style story-telling- regular people who have to live with a monster in the basement- i.e. it’s never about the monster, it’s about how ordinary people live with a monster.

It reminds me of the song Veronica. It’s not about the Alzheimer’s; no, it’s about how loved she was that a man left everything to help the love of his life- die. Here, there’s no hope, but humanity continues.
So yes, I approve.

FWD, Review By Case Wright


There are times when a writer/director knows that he has made something pretty bad. I had to write in “FWD” above because the writer/director didn’t bother to make a poster of any kind. I’d probably hide my involvement.

The story has an email chain letter that was common in 1999 and the main character did not forward it; so, she’s been marked for death. I did like the touches of the antiquated email and the large monitor to tell me – this is from simpler times and this film was done by someone who is creatively simple.

It was a painful ripoff of Scream and I did not like that. I remember Scream when I was a youth and just because you found an old monitor doesn’t mean that you can build a short around it. The actresses’ talents here were wasted.

Sometimes people create when they should just binge Netflix and leave the rest of us Normals alone. I encourage you to watch this terrible short because we all know what you did to deserve it.

Waffle, Review by Case Wright


I do love a good short film. I love a good comedy horror and loathe the ones that are terrible like this garbage trash “Origin” that I reviewed last year: https://unobtainium13.com/2021/10/06/origin-film-review-by-case-wright/ I’m not saying that the person who unleashed “Origin” or any terrible Short Film should be imprisoned forever, but I’m not saying that they shouldn’t either- Listen, I’ll back your play.

Waffle was ….. not bad. There were some stunners last year. I mean true artworks and please if you have the ability to hire these actors, writers, and directors – please call them. I’ll spot your month’s IMDB Pro dues if you do. *winks with sexy Italian eyebrows, makes click sound – Sup?*

Kate Marovitch and Kerry Barker created Waffle and they hit a number of good points. It’s a self-contained story. They were on a budget, but made the film look awfully slick. There’s a clear plot and narrative thread. I put this short-film in the good category, which I don’t give out lightly. Shorts are a unique storytelling artform- Every word matters and every second matters. I wouldn’t mind seeing another one of their shorts; however, I’d like to see what they could create for a series.

The short takes our phone induced isolation to another level. In this world, you rent friendship and love with a finger swipe, but Katie uses the evil Tinder to find her victims. Yes, this plot is straight-forward, but it had some funny lines and a heart. They are tapping into the interpersonal relationship version of there are “ten-thousand channels and nothing’s on.”

I don’t want to spoil the ending and would recommend this ten-minutes for you. Yes, you!

Killer Pizza, Short Film Review, By Case Wright


Here we are! The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Shout out to Lisa our Glorious Leader and Friend!

Killer Pizzer Delivers! See what I did there?! That’s right, it’s Horrorthon! It’s on! Basically, pizza

is killing people at and home and restaurants. Nikki, our heroine, loses her mother to my people’s food! Side Note: isn’t it awesome to be Italian?! Our food owns the BEST DAY OF THE WEEK!!! Our food makes a party! You have four unrelated people together- that’s a meeting, but add pizza and you have…. wait for it….. A PIZZA PARTY!!!

Back to Killer Pizza! That’s it! It’s 2 minutes and 24 seconds! Enjoy!

Moon, Review by Case Wright, Happy Horrorthon! *Some Spoilers*


Happy Horrorthon! My midterms are done; so, I have this brief window to be analytical that doesn’t involve Petroleum, Carbon, A piston, or some sort of torque. This film is the kind of horror film that I like that dares to be political. Duncan explores the hidden cost and ineffectiveness of best intentions. You have an intractable problem, but is the solution actually helping and are the people advocating it trustworthy? Moon presents the problem: Global Warming. The solution that is marketed and sold to the world is fusion by strip mining the Moon and sending the fuel back to earth. There are scenes where we see scars on the moon from the strip mining. Are we creating a new problem? Is the solution a net wash? Is the solution financing an evil regime? Why is environmentalism immune to cynicism? The exploitation of an unlimited labor? Have corporations done anything ever to warrant even our limited trust? These are the questions that Duncan forces us to confront with horror.

I know that this sounds ham-fisted, but the political statements are brilliantly subtle. This is not a right-wing political film either; on the contrary, it’s about presenting the moral imperative of considering unintended consequences as we push to solve real problems.

My eyes rolled so hard at the opening though when a corporate ad from Lunar, the mining company, pushed their “Green Energy” solution that I almost turned it off because the last thing I needed post-midterms was someone scolding me for 97 minutes. However, the opening was visually stunning; so, I hung with the film. Also, it starred Sam Rockwell and he’s awesome. This was the directorial debut of Duncan Jones who is immediately identified as David Bowie’s son, but you don’t need to confirm that with Wiki because he looks just like his Dad.

We are in a future where fossil fuels are thing of the past and fusion via strip mining the moon is providing the world with a New Eden; at least, that’s what the totally trustworthy corporation is telling us in it’s slick ad.

(Now, if you want to really end ALL fossil fuels, the solution is to perfect Tesla Coils and wirelessly transmit electricity this would obviate the need for batteries and would power the world constantly. Horrorthon is not just for great commentary; it’s for learning! )

The film is a one-man/two man show….huh…just wait. Sam Bell is a moon worker on a three year contact, maintaining the moon harvesters as they strip mine this essential rock that keeps our axis stable. In this future, the job of astronaut is less Neil Armstrong and more horrible non-union factory job. Sam is dirty, breaking down, beginning to hallucinate, and bored to tears. The live-link to planet earth has not functioned since his arrival and he’s surrounded by nearly completed hobbies like whittling towns from his memories. We are forced to see the horror of a human being in profound loneliness and hopelessness for our needs.

The next plot point has Sam checkinng on a malfunctioning harvester; however, he has a vision of his daughter and he crashes. We see him pass out as he’s being buried alive. Sam wakes to his only companion- a robot with Kevin Spacey’s voice. Important note is that this film was from 2009. Sam’s suspicious that there might be something outside of the ship and the robot appears to be able to talk live with the evil corporate leaders from earth. Sam is determined to investigate outside the ship. After a brief sabotage, Sam is able to investigate the moon harvester. He discovers a busted up copy of himself.

He’s confronted with Lunar’s answer to the high cost of unions, labor complaints, and pay: you don’t negotiate with employees, you grow them. If things go really wrong like two clones meet, you send in goons to kill them, and wake up new disposable people. What’s is so painful is that the corporation gave the clone’s a 3 year lifespan; so, we watch Sam Bell Prime disintegrate slowly in scene after scene, including one where he spits out a molar… yeeeeech. While we see the human toll, we also see the moon missing huge chunks of itself as result of the mining. So, we are committing this horrible evil, but is this clean energy just creating a new and unintended problem? We are so desperate to not think things through that we greenlight an idea to destroy our own moon and credulously accept corporate talking points.

This film was thoughtful and painful. Duncan Jones forces us to think take some time and… THINK. What are we doing? Maybe doing something just to do something isn’t the answer? We are confronted what we don’t want to consider: how did this sausage end up in this package? I’m not seeing any pollution; therefore, it’s not happening. Our society is less owl and more ostrich every day.

Happy Horrorthon!

My Dolphin, By Case Wright


I met My Dolphin 15 years ago. It was Christmas Day at Kitty Hawk. I didn’t have any kids yet and the presents were done. I was not hungover; those sorts of mornings happened later. It was a nice Christmas; in contrast to my Christmases growing up- they were very scary because of my Old Man. He would try to stay out of his cups for some holidays and that was always much much worse. I remember wishing that he would just drink and get it over with. Christmas Day back in those days were like distilled fear; I’d get smacked around and go for long walks in Virginia until late afternoon broke and my Old Man’s no drinking pledge would subside.

I was older now, but I still got anxious Christmas morning and liked to go for those walks alone. I needed to feel that wind . . . that cold December wind brace against my cheeks. On Christmas, Kitty Hawk has grey skies and bitter salty winds in beautiful abundance. I liked the way the wind smacked me around safely.

I left the beach house front door, shut it smartly, and remembered to lock it and check it. You can’t trust locks and doors at the Outer Banks the rust and decay is ubiquitous and the salt blows through everything like alpha particles clumsily meandering in space toward wherever they want to go. My shoes made that scraping sound where the salt and sand and shoes come together. I turned and looked ahead to the Dunes that I’d crossed thousands of times. There’s always these openings along the beach road that takes you along the length of island, until the next bridge, and the next barrier island and the next and the next. I always entered to the left entrance where it’s filled with countless footprints no matter what time of day; the wooden entrances just don’t have the same feel. I always looked both ways first, not for cars but to see just how empty it was both along the left and right. I went up and down the Dune entrance, seeing the ocean with that green color it has.

I was about to exhale, but then I heard the screams.

I saw a man trying to pull a beached dolphin back into the ocean. It was low tide and he would be pulling and then the dolphin would roll back to shore. Then, I was upon the man and breathing deeply. I had run at a sprint without thinking. The Man was skinny and no older than 30 with a full beard with beat up jeans and a wool sweater. He grabbed me and had tears in his eyes.

“Help!” “I can’t get him in! I already called emergency marine life, but they’re not answering.”

I grabbed the rear fin – (assume that what it’s called), the man grabbed around his center, and we dragged the dolphin towards the water. We were losing our footing. I remember digging against the wet sand, pulling as hard as we all could. His skin was rubbery, but rough from the sand. He tried to help us by bucking to get back into the sea. His blood was on my hands and washed away. With a pull of all of our strength, the Man, the dolphin, and I fell into the mini-shelf where ocean, sand, and pebbles met. The waves would hit and push us all back. This pattern went on ’til our hands were numb and our clothes were heavy and soaked. Every step was like fighting through foot deep wet snow. Finally, the three of us were exhausted.

I pulled the dolphin to the beach by myself; the Man told me that he was going for help, but we knew he wasn’t coming back because he couldn’t meet our eyes. I hugged My Dolphin and looked into his eyes- they had clear awareness and thought; that’s when I knew that for the first time in my life that I was going to have to help a person die.

My Dolphin was so scared. He wasn’t bucking or squirming anymore; we were too tired for that. He was in my arms and looked at me pleadingly. I shook my head, held my tears in, and told My Dolphin- “It was going to be okay. It was going to be okay.”

He sighed, looked away for a moment at the sea, and looked back at me- calmly. His eyes were telling me that it was going to be okay. My Dolphin died in my arms. Then, I let myself weep.

I’m sure that he had a name among his family, but I’ve always called him My Dolphin that is who he is and will remain to me. We all die, but My Dolphin passed in the arms of another person who loved him. We were going to be okay…. we were going to be okay.

Titans – When Good Shows Go Bad- Review By Case Wright


Who do you blame when a good show goes bad? In this case, I think we can blame Greg Berlanti. Greg is a terrific artist, but he spreads himself too thin, gets distracted, and all of his show go up in smoke after two seasons. I think he just gets bored too easily. Arrow was great the first two and a half seasons, but it started a rapid decline once Greg made 100 different cape shows. Titans follows that pattern as well. The first two season of Titans was some of the greatest television that I’d ever seen. It was realistic, dark, and had humor. The cast was diverse and terrific. The fight scenes looked amazingly real. Not since The Watchmen, could I see myself living in a world with superheroes.

Then Titans, like you’re first real relationship with a person whom you thought about marrying – fell apart when your study session with the blonde outdoorsy girl with the Italian last name took a left turn, your lady found out, and she quickly started dating an event planner with a ponytail.

Anywho, once Alan Ritchson (Hawk) moved on to Reacher on Amazon Prime, the show lost its heart; it stopped being realistic. The worst example of this was casting Jay Lycurgo as Tim Drake. To be clear, he is a good actor, but he’s 100lbs soaking wet. See below.

This character had no superpowers and Tim was knocking out dudes twice his size with one punch. It looked straight up silly. Caped crusader movies are kinda goofy just by having people run around in these weird outfits. This was a bridge too far. His acting is good, but this is an action show- not some IFC thinkpiece about skinny Gen-Z bloggers. When he tried to fight and look tough, I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s just stupid looking and takes you totally out of their world. Don’t waste your time- Greg has clearly moved on and let the laziest writing and casting take over. All of the realism and fun has been drained out of the show with the precision of a surgeon.

“51%” Jonathan Crane develops a fear toxin because that’s what he does. “Home” – we watch Hawk die and the series with him. “Souls” – we see Hawk, Tim, and Donna again, but sadly all 100lbs of Tim Drake doesn’t stay dead- too bad for us. “Troubled Water”, “The Call is Coming From Inside The House”, “Prodigal”, and “Purple Rain” Donna comes back to life and Tim Drake – The hero who no one deserves- saves the day from fear toxin by making it rain lightning or something similarly dumb.

But Case, this review is so short. My response: I didn’t give up on this show, Greg did. There is nothing worthwhile here anymore. Take up a hobby, but don’t watch this show anymore. It’s simply not worth it. Greg, you are loved and have proven to make great television; well, up to 26- 38 episodes of it before you lose that lovin feelin. You’ve lost that lovin feelin could be Greg’s Biography. Greg, try a new song as your spiritual touchstone…Waterfalls are pretty and nice, but if you go chasing them – you lose your greatest love- stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. Please let’s both not kid ourselves, The Flash and Legends was never going to complement Arrow and my study session was NEVER about the books.

The Great Philosophers TLC knew it best…. Greg, have a listen…..

Reacher S1 Ep4 “In a Tree”, (Dir. Christine Moore) Review by Case Wright


I hope that you missed me! I have been knee-deep in differential equations and a back injury, but like Reacher, I’m continuing on- It got picked up! Also, I have been reading the first book and I can confirm that this show is very true to the book. I think that’s why I like it so much- it’s throwback to the mini-series of the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s- Shogun, North and South, Jesse Stone, and The Stand. These were book adaptions that strove to be true to the source material. Today, we are used to craptacular adaptations like “It” an ok film, but had nothing to do with the source material and openly rejected it.

Reacher episodes, like the mini-series of yore, continue from the moment the last episode ends, but unlike the mini-series of yesteryear they use different directors for each episode. Luckily, they pick old hands at familiar with the action/mystery genre. This episode is directed by Christine Moore – if it’s an action packed mystery show- she has directed it. Period. She can direct the Hell out of a fight scene.

Reacher is rummaging through the assassin vehicle and putting everyone in the truck who he killed. To fit them all in, he breaks their dead legs. YEECH! Keep in mind, this is not just a mystery for Reacher- it’s a revenge story. They killed his brother- his only family and he would kill the whole town if they were all in on it.

They find Joe’s car and there’s a great bit of dark comedy when Reacher jokes to Finley how he killed two more people and they’re in the car a few feet from them. There’s a total understanding that the rules have been broken. Society itself died in Margrave. They are the only law and vengeance is the only punishment. That’s why the backdrop of Iraq is always present.

After Iraq fell, events happened that should not have. I was not there, but things happened just the same. Society is a mile long and an inch deep. We are always one sustained power blackout from tribal conflict and feudalism. Reacher reveals to Roscoe that caught three pedophiles abusing local boys. He gave them a choice to turn themselves in or answer to him. They chose Reacher and he executed them. She rapidly gets on board with dumping bodies at the airport parking garage. Wow. COLD BLOODED!

Roscoe and Reacher check into an airport Hotel and get a call from Joe’s former partner, but she doesn’t even give them a hint as to what the investigation is about. She will meet them at the airport, but I got to write that it was WEIRD that she didn’t give a hint about what his brother was investigating. Shortly after the call, the building sexual tension between Roscoe and Reacher releases in a fairly long scene.

Meanwhile, the mayor pulls Finley off of investigating the case and threatens his career. Reacher and Roscoe find the motel where Joe was staying and get his his hidden notes. Reacher and Roscoe get pursued by killers….again. When they are all together to meet Joe’s former partner at the airport, they see her, and then she vanishes. Reacher searches for her and finds her bleeding out. Back to square one.