Horror Short: Lewis (2011)
There was a house a few streets over from where I grew up in that was struck by lightening three times. What a shitty deal!! If you’re unlucky enough to get hit by lightening once, well you can just write it off and be glad that that’s over and now you’re no longer at risk. And then your house gets nailed two more times?? Either your house has some serious problems with attracting lightening, or your karma is fucked. But what about applying this principle to directors and their films? Last year I watched, loved, and included Anthony Sumner’s SLICES OF LIFE on my “Best of 2010” list. Last week he sent me the link to his new short film, LEWIS, a co-production between TinyCore Pictures (Sumner & Eric Richter) and MuscleWolf Productions (Marv Blauvelt). I was nervous. Could lightening strike twice? What if I didn’t like it after loving SLICES OF LIFE? Luckily there’s no issue here, and Anthony Sumner has proven that lightening can indeed strike twice.
LEWIS is the story of Amanda (anythinghorror.com fav Deneen Melody), a woman going through a rough patch. Amanda has fuzzy recollections of a violent past where her parents where killed, but she can’t seem to put her rather chaotic thoughts in order. And now she walks in on her hubby banging another chick, and as an explanation he just tells her, “This isn’t what it looks like.” Uh-huh; right. So after looking for guidance from her priest, Father Lennox (Jerry Murdock), she packs up her daughter Aubrey (Taylor Metzger), who is turning nine, and travels to the small town of Kronanburg (I think I have that spelled correctly!!). Father Lennox sends her up there to “get away from it all” and try and find some peace of mind and figure out what happened to her parents all those years ago.
Once there she’s met by Sister Louise (Father Lennox set up the meeting) and things quickly go from “a little off” to full scale “fucked”!! I’m not gonna give away many more details about this one, but there are multiple scenes that are gonna shock the hell out of you. I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to genre flicks, but Sumner somehow managed to make my eyes open wide at some of the images he captured on screen. No no no … sorry, but you’re gonna have to see it for yourself!! All I’ll tell you is that it’s “Breeding Season” in the town and all the women seem to be hornier than a bunch of three-peckered billy goats. But just wait; there’s a lot of very twisted images in this 35min short!!
LEWIS will be part of the upcoming anthology, PSYCHO STREET, and was shot over the course of three and a half days (with an additional half day of footage being shot in Chicago). And you know that nowadays it’s pretty common/popular to give your horror film an old-school “grindhouse” feel to it (hey; it’s better than this new 3D craze that I’m sick to death of). But Sumner, never one to follow the pack, goes a step further and completely captures the feel of those old Satanic cult films of the 1970’s … you know the ones I’m talking about; films like THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN (1971), RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975), and TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976, which is also referenced in LEWIS). And let me tell you, Sumner nails it. He captures every friggin’ element of this sub-genre from the soundtrack to the set designs to the costumes and dialogue and to the overall “feel” and look of it. If I were to just put this on without telling you what it was and who directed it, you’d think I found some “lost classic” from the 70’s!!
LEWIS is filled with great performances, especially from Deneen Melody and Jerry Murdock (Father Lennox). Melody continues to shine, has a great screen presence (the camera loves her), and gets better as an actress every time I see her in a new role (she was fantastic in CRESTFALLEN). And Murdock puts in a really terrific performance and plays off both sides of his character extremely well. He’s friendly and helpful one moment and then sinister and terrifying the next. And just in case you’re thinking that Sumner won’t be able to top what he did in SLICES OF LIFE, rest assured. LEWIS has a 35 minutes run time and enough effects to fill a full length feature. All the f/x are practical and just wait until you see the Lovecraft-inspired creature at the end!!
With LEWIS, Sumner does something much more impressive than just prove that lightening can indeed strike twice. He proves he’s a huge talent on the indie horror scene and that he’s only gonna get better with each project he works on. LEWIS is a really fun, gory, jaw-dropping short that will take you back to the “good old days,” when Satan roamed free and filmmakers actually had fun making movies. I loved every second of this one!! Check this one out for sure. I’ll keep you all updated when PSYCHO STREET is available, and until then you can check out the LEWIS website here. And be sure to check out the anythinghorror.com Facebook page (here) where I’ll be posting more pics from LEWIS.
Director: Anthony G. Sumner (& co-writer)
Plot: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer