The Unforgiven (2012) & Year of the Ox (2012) … Plus a Special Treat!!

actor Steven Twardokus in THE UNFORGIVEN

actor Steven Twardokus in THE UNFORGIVEN

No, I’m not reviewing that UNFORGIVEN. THE UNFORGIVEN is a super short film shot and directed by Derek Cole (director of the fantastic film, AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY). This 6 minute mini-short stars Stephen Twardokus (who’s also the star of AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY), as an unnamed guy who’s psychologically being torn apart by something tragic from his past. He eventually writes a note and then proceeds to hang himself. That’s all I can write without giving away the gut punch ending. I know it doesn’t sound like much of a story but Twardokus once again proves the depth and range of his acting and Cole proves again his laser-like focus behind the camera. Twardokus conveys so much emotion and pain without ever speaking one word and Coles does a brilliant job of setting up a heavy tone and mood that most full-length features can’t accomplish.

THE UNFORGIVEN is as powerful as it is short and I highly recommended. Lucky for us this short is posted on Cole’s website and he’s given me permission to post it here for you to watch. Enjoy it and then check out YEAR OF THE OX below:

THE UNFORGIVEN Summary:

Director: Derek Cole

Plot: 5 out of 5 stars

Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

No that's no Doug Bradley!!

No that’s no Doug Bradley!!

The next short I watched, YEAR OF THE OX, couldn’t be more different from THE UNFORGIVEN. Directed by Rob Sepulveda and written by Sepulveda and Grant Anderson, YEAR OF THE OX tells the (brief) story of Chicago criminal gang who comes to realize there’s worse things out there than rival gang members.

This ten and a half minute short starts off with a definition of what Hypersensory Perception (HSP) is: “The ability to grasp another person’s emotions or memories through physical contact.” Okay, got it. After watching the entire short I’m still not sure exactly what HSP has to do with the story here, but I can overlook that. YEAR OF THE OX is fast-paced and doesn’t waste time getting down to it.

In the opening scenes we learn that a criminal gang in Chicago is under attack by some kind of entity. Problem is, no one has seen the creature and lived to talk about it. But we do know that whatever this beast is, it has killed many of the gang members.

Pretty standard looking demon broad!!

Pretty standard looking demon broad!!

One of the top ranking gangsters, Jimmy (Suhn Lee), is the most recent victim and another gang member, Hiro (Ron Fitzgerald), is fed up. He kidnaps Lucy (Kelsey Zukowski) because she’s the last person who saw Jimmy alive. Hiro has Lucy bound up and is settling in to interrogate her when he makes the mistake of touching her. One little touch immediately transforms Lucy into some kind of demon-like creature. Now we’re on to something. But wait; after she offs a few people the short just suddenly ends after we get “to be continued” sprawled across the screen. Hhmmm. I’ve heard the saying, “Always leave them wanting more,” but this was a little extreme. I’m not sure if this is going to be a web-based series or just an ongoing short film series, but we didn’t get any kind of closure. That was disappointing, but luckily there was enough here to enjoy up until the ending.

The acting was pretty much on average for an indie horror short. I could’ve used a little more gore at the end and the demon/entity make-up was pretty standard stuff. But what I really liked was the colors cinematographer Sepulveda used. It gave everything a kind of surreal and hyper-real kind of feel to it. I enjoyed it but it left me wanting a lot more.

This is usually the point in the review where I tell you this short is currently on the festival circuit and isn’t yet available to the public. Not this time!! You can watch THE YEAR OF THE OX in its entirety right here, right now (please, no Jesus Jones references … I’m looking at you, Xenolicker!!):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7BqexxKQRc#t=571]

YEAR OF THE OX Summary:

Director: Rob Sepulveda

Plot: 3 out of 5 stars

Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

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