Walt (2011) & Night of the Punks (2010): 2 Short Films
My love affair with horror shorts continues. I’ve been pretty damn lucky this year. I’ve seen a lot of short horror films and most of them have been fantastic. It’s gonna be very hard to compile my “Best Short Films of 2012”list later this month!! The most recent short films I watched, WALT and NIGHT OF THE PUNKS, couldn’t be more different from each other in every way, but they’re both really fun in their own right (I watched these back to back). Let’s start with WALT.
WALT is directed by Randal Plunkett and is written by Randal and Oliver Plunkett. This short (which runs about 25 minutes) starts off as anything but a horror short. Young schoolboy James (Cian Lavelle-Walsh) is wandering around a pond and catches the attention of elderly man, Walt (John E. Regan). Walt is blind and pretty feeble looking as he sits in his chair fishing, and only after he hears James walking around does he reach out to him (he needs help finding his pills in his overstuffed bag). ‘Reaching out’ is essentially what WALT is all about. James comes from a broken home, his mother is dead, and his father has no time for James (the bottle keeps his dad occupied). He’s lonely, awkward, and has no adult figure to look up to.
Walt is a sick, blind, very frail looking old man. He’s pretty helpless and can’t even find the pills in his own bag that he himself packed. A relationship slowly develops between the two as Walt becomes the father figure James needs and James becomes the companion and friend Walt needs. Are you thinking “Hallmark Hall of Fame” TV movie? Well rest assured that things get pretty damn dark (don’t worry … this is a spoiler-free review).
There’s a few other minor players here; Ellie (Sorcha Lavelle-Walsh), plays the girl James has a crush on, and there’s two characters at the very end of the short who appear very briefly on screen. The bulk of the 25 minutes here is about James and Walt’s relationship and how these two people slowly let their guard down in order to trust the other. Cian Lavelle-Walsh and Regan are very impressive. This is Walsh’s first performance on screen and Regan’s third, but they carry themselves like seasoned pro’s. They beautifully capture the awkwardness of meeting someone new and having to slowly learn to trust someone else. Their relationship is actually very touching and if these two actors didn’t do such a great job, the entire last act wouldn’t have worked. I know I’m being vague, but this is definitely one you want to know as little about as possible before seeing it. Cinematographer Stefano Battarola also captures some stunningly beautiful scenery of the Irish landscape (WALT was filmed at Dunsany Castle, County Meath, Ireland).
And don’t be fooled. As touching and sweet as this one starts off, it ends on a very dark and twisted and gory ending. Plunkett does a nice job here and stays focused and knows exactly what he wants WALT to be. Highly recommended.
My Summary for WALT:
Director: Randal Pluckett (& co-writer with Oliver Plunkett)
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains (although the argument could be made that this does indeed have a zombie theme. Perhaps I’ve said too much already)
The other horror short I watched the same night, NIGHT OF THE PUNKS, couldn’t have been more different!! Whereas WALT was serious and meditative, NIGHT OF THE PUNKS is over the top, gory, and doesn’t take itself seriously at all. WALT is the touching story of the developing relationship between two lost individuals; NIGHT OF THE PUNKS is about an amateur punk rock band (The Brain Deads) who get their first gig in another town. They are stoked and ready to put on the best show of their lives, which probably wouldn’t be difficult. When they get to the gig they find an rather empty bar with a few very trashed looking patrons; the promoter, Raymond (Dominic DeLeo) who booked them is rather creepy and intense, and once they start playing, the audience reveals themselves to be blood-thirsty, flesh-eating demons from Hell. What a gig!!
NIGHT OF THE PUNKS is a horror-comedy that’s full of great one-liners and great gore. Director Dan Riesser (who co-wrote the script with Mike Kinshella) keeps the short moving at a great pace and isn’t afraid to splatter the sets with ample amounts of the gooey stuff (Riesser is one of the producers of E! Entertainment’s THE SOUP and actor DeLeo has been apart of many onscreen scripts with the host, Joel McHale). Riesser also does a fantastic job of recapturing the feel of those kickass punk-slatter flicks from the 1980s. You know the ones I’m talking about: THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, Bava’s DEMONS, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS … you know, the classics!!
We also get great performances from the entire cast. The members of the punk band (Luke Edwards, Nick Mundy, Mike Kinshella, John Bobek, and Aubrey Wood) are perfectly cast and really look like they’re having a fun time in their roles. Riesser also doesn’t make the viewer wait too long for the gore. He knows what elements make a great short film and he nails it. I also got the feeling that Riesser intends to make a longer, possibly feature-length, film out of this short. I’m game, and after you see this one I’m pretty confident that you will be too. Don’t miss NIGHT OF THE PUNKS!!
The other night turned out to be a great night. I watched two very different horror shorts that were both fantastic in their own right. WALT and NIGHT OF THE PUNKS shows the range horror filmmakers have when they are executing at the top of their respective games!!
My Summary of NIGHT OF THE PUNKS:
Director: Dan Riesser (& co-writer with Mike Kinshella)
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 7 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Both horror shorts reviewed by Scott Shoyer