After Hours (2016): Short, Effective and Spot On (Review)

Bill Oberst Jr.

Written by Adam Weber (This was his first time up as scribe.) and directed by Michael Aguiar (His second stint in the big chair.),  After Hours  stars the prolific Bill Oberst Jr. as a detective investigating the murder of a young girl in what appears to be a thrift store. 

The young lady is working after hours and once the lights go off, before she can leave the shop, it seems that she is not alone. When she goes to investigate, things take a tragic and deadly turn.

Detective Harris arrives to find that the girl he questioned earlier in another case has been brutally murdered in the store’s elevator. As he searches for clues, the killer stays busy.

After Hours proves how effective camera work, spot on lighting and some on point suspense, via sound, can take a short film and really make it shine. Cinematographer William Schweikert gives us crisp images, even in the darkened shop, that focuses on the events without distraction.

The FX in the film pack a satisfying wallop that is just this side of brilliant. (Keep an eye out for it and see if you do not agree that it is more than effective.)

The lighting is used to set things up, as is the soundtrack itself, and Aguiar, who edited the film, puts it all together flawlessly.  The end result is a thriller cum horror film that delivers its punch very nicely.

Bill Oberst Jr. has over 164 credits under his belt and the actor brings a stamp of truth and authority to whatever role he plays. In this film, his portrayal of the detective with drive and a keen attention to detail makes the ending come across brilliantly.

Gabriel Lee, as Detective Cordova, projects a sense of realism in the few seconds he has on screen and Tracy Decresie screams the place down very convincingly. 

Aguiar pulls us in nicely and moves the tale along at a solid pace. This short horror thriller manages to deliver a one-two punch that surprises as much as it pleases. The build up to pay off is expertly done, so much so that even with a repeated viewing or two, the essence is still there.  Watching the film several times also allows the viewer a chance to catch all the clever nuances that Michael has “hidden” in the movie.

The director recommends watching After Hours “in a darkened room.” He also suggests wearing earphones to enhance the experience. His advice is sound (pun intended) but watching the film without the tips still entertains and has an impressive scare factor.

After Hours is still on the festival circuit and will, no doubt, garner some excellent reviews from horror fans and critics alike. Film’s like these are what the short film category was invented for. Succinct, punchy and clever this film earns a full 5 stars for effectiveness and an O. Henry flavour that delights.

Have a look at the trailer for a taste of this nigh-on perfect offering:

Heir (2015): Disturbing Dark and Powerful [UPDATE]

Written and directed by Richard Powell (Worm, Familiar, Consumption) the 2015 short film Heir from Fatal Pictures is a walk on the dark side of life. T

Poster for Heir

[UPDATE]

Zach Green has informed Mike’s Film Talk that Heir has been nominated for Best Short Film at the 14th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. For those who would like to vote for the film, click the link and read the instructions. Congratulations to Zach and his cast/crew for the nomination.

Written and directed by Richard Powell (Worm, Familiar, Consumption) the 2015 short film Heir from Fatal Pictures is a walk on the dark side of life. This disturbingly dark movie will have its world premiere at Montreal’s FanTasia International Film Festival this summer.

Robert Nolan plays Gordon, the father of Paul who harbors a dark secret side to himself known only to Denis played by Bill Oberst Jr. Nolan (Mourning has Broken, Worm, Familiar) is a Powell regular and worked in several of his films. The actor specializes in bringing a lot to any of the roles he plays. His characters have an impressive depth and he brings an air of believability to the table.

Bill Oberst Jr. (Scary or Die, Take This Lollipop) as Denis is disturbingly twisted and terrifying. Only Oberst can deliver a character that simultaneously comes across as perverse and knowingly evil with such conviction. From the moment we meet the man in a cafe, with the sign behind the counter advertising British meat pies, the viewer knows that this is not a nice chap at all.

The film begins with Gordon sitting in front of his computer. The room is dark and the screen lights up his face as he crops a picture of a boy and woman while flashing back to the day he took their picture. The man is setting up a “play date.” Glancing nervously and guiltily around the room he gets directions.

Still from Heir
Gordon and Paul meet Denis

The man at the other end of the computer conversation is Denis, an old “school” buddy of Gordon’s. This soon reveals itself to be a lie of convenience, when the man jokingly asks the father of Paul about what subjects they “shared.” At first glance it seems that the only thing these two share is a taste for perversion.

“It smells in here,” the boy says as the buzzing of a fly is heard in the background. We are as uneasy as the youngster and Denis begins to become aggressive in his desire. The conflict in Heir appears initially to be the contrast of both men. Gordon who has been, apparently, attempting to control his urges where Denis has allowed himself to go with his base desires and is rotting in his den of evil.

Cinematographer Michael Jari Davidson has the camera crisp and clear until he allows the shadows to fall across Gordon’s face at the appropriate moments. Lighting plays a clear role in the film and is used to emphasis the underlying moods of the players. Davidson continues to go above and beyond, just as he did in Mourning Has Broken.

Oberst Jr and Nolan deliver as different sides of the same coin. The two actors are excellent at what they do and their casting was spot on. Powell is an expert at showing the darker side of the world in unique and disturbing ways. There should be a few gongs for this film in Montreal and both Bill and Robert should walk away with some honors.

Still from Heir
Gordon and Denis

This is a brilliantly dark film with a disturbing feeling of depth and one which should prompt some heavy duty discussion after viewing. Prepare to be surprised, disturbed and entertained. Heir will have its world premiere at the Montreal FanTasia International Film Festival this summer.

27 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Heir (2015): Disturbing Dark and Powerful

Poster for Heir
Written and directed by Richard Powell (Worm, Familiar, Consumption) the 2015 short film Heir from Fatal Pictures is a walk on the dark side of life. This disturbingly dark movie will have its world premiere at Montreal’s FanTasia International Film Festival this summer.

Robert Nolan plays Gordon, the father of Paul who harbors a dark secret side to himself known only to Denis played by Bill Oberst Jr. Nolan (Mourning has Broken, Worm, Familiar) is a Powell regular and worked in several of his films. The actor specializes in bringing a lot to any of the roles he plays. His characters have an impressive depth and he brings an air of believability to the table.

Bill Oberst Jr. (Scary or Die, Take This Lollipop) as Denis is disturbingly twisted and terrifying. Only Oberst can deliver a character that simultaneously comes across as perverse and knowingly evil with such conviction. From the moment we meet the man in a cafe, with the sign behind the counter advertising British meat pies, the viewer knows that this is not a nice chap at all.

The film begins with Gordon sitting in front of his computer. The room is dark and the screen lights up his face as he crops a picture of a boy and woman while flashing back to the day he took their picture. The man is setting up a “play date.” Glancing nervously and guiltily around the room he gets directions.

Still from Heir
Gordon and Paul meet Denis

The man at the other end of the computer conversation is Denis, an old “school” buddy of Gordon’s. This soon reveals itself to be a lie of convenience, when the man jokingly asks the father of Paul about what subjects they “shared.” At first glance it seems that the only thing these two share is a taste for perversion.

“It smells in here,” the boy says as the buzzing of a fly is heard in the background. We are as uneasy as the youngster and Denis begins to become aggressive in his desire. The conflict in Heir appears initially to be the contrast of both men. Gordon who has been, apparently, attempting to control his urges where Denis has allowed himself to go with his base desires and is rotting in his den of evil.

Cinematographer Michael Jari Davidson has the camera crisp and clear until he allows the shadows to fall across Gordon’s face at the appropriate moments. Lighting plays a clear role in the film and is used to emphasis the underlying moods of the players. Davidson continues to go above and beyond, just as he did in Mourning Has Broken.

Oberst Jr and Nolan deliver as different sides of the same coin. The two actors are excellent at what they do and their casting was spot on. Powell is an expert at showing the darker side of the world in unique and disturbing ways. There should be a few gongs for this film in Montreal and both Bill and Robert should walk away with some honors.

Still from Heir
Gordon and Denis

This is a brilliantly dark film with a disturbing feeling of depth and one which should prompt some heavy duty discussion after viewing. Prepare to be surprised, disturbed and entertained. Heir will have its world premiere at the Montreal FanTasia International Film Festival this summer.

27 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith