If you are a regular reader of our lil’ ol’ website, then you’ve occasionally seen me post that Horror And Sons does accept review offers via our email address. Only within the past year or two have we really started receiving a notable amount of offers, and I do try to get to as many of those as I can. Occasionally, I do get offered something that sounds just truly painful, which is usually quickly passed on. Occasionally, I get offers that pique my interest. The subjects for this review falls squarely in the latter.
I was recently contacted by a talented aspiring filmmaker named Josh Kaukl in regards to reviewing a couple of his newest short films. Submitted for review are 2 of Josh’s creations, SEED and What Comes Out, both of which have been submitted to numerous upcoming film festivals. Without further delay, let’s look at each film.
13 mins 43 secs
The dying mother of a developmentally challenged young man donates her body to be used for experimental cancer research. After the woman eventually succumbs to the disease, her son, Ryan, is allowed to visit the lab that will be performing the experiments on his mother’s cell tissue.
The film opens to find Ryan laying on the floor of his mother’s small, disheveled bedroom. The floors are littered with empty aluminum cans, and plastic bags filled with other hoarded belongings line the walls. Prescription bottles cover the top of the microwave oven located next to the dying woman’s bed. Ryan lies on the floor next to his mother, speaking with the woman as if they were having a conversation telepathically. Meanwhile, the woman lies silently in her bed, laboring to breathe. Within moments, she is gone. Ryan is left to face the rest of his life alone and unprepared.
Soon after his mother’s passing, Ryan meets with the researcher that his mother had been working with. The man admits that the experimental cancer treatments that Ryan’s mother had been receiving seemingly failed, but assures Ryan that more can still be learned from the woman. He tells Ryan that his mother had hoped that he would follow along with the developments. Ryan is more than a little uncomfortable with the idea, still reeling from the loss of the only person that was ever there to take care of him.
During their discussion, the scientist mentions a newly discovered cellular system that they’ve christened “Hela”. The cell is defined as “immortal”, meaning that it continues to exist and bond with other human cells without deterioration. While the scientist explains how it works, Ryan seems clearly bothered, almost as if he is hearing voices. Ryan eventually leaves the lab and returns to his apartment, now completely alone. That is, except for the voices which have followed him home.
The film takes a unique look at cancer, making the disease seem more frightening and threatening than it already is. That said, the film does not attempt to depress you with the horrific pain that those living with cancer must really go through, and instead takes a horror-tinged science fiction look at the possible evolution of this horrible disease. There is also some implication of our souls living on after death through, albeit unintentional, scientific means that may bother those that have dealt with the loss caused by this disease.
Acting is generally good, with a stand-out performance from actor Jeremy Gladen as “Ryan”.
WHAT COMES OUT
9 mins 31 sec
A woman named “Dana” (Nora Kaukl) discusses her overwhelming fear of… well, damn near everything. This even includes fears of everyday occurrences, such as her husband’s immature obsession with jumping out of darkened rooms and/or corners in order to give her a fright. She talks to her best friend about her situation, but the friend tends to think that she is just being too sensitive and even over-acting some. The friend even makes the comment that maybe Dana watches too many “scary movies”, as if such a thing were even possible.
The friend leaves and Dana is left to face her fears alone. She searches around her house for who knows what, turning lights on as she goes from room to room. She pauses just outside her bedroom closet, but finally finds the courage to stick a hand in and feel around. Nothing is found within the closet, but that doesn’t stop the door from opening on its own later on. From the darkness emerges a creature that will not only make Dana face her darkest fears, but also accept a long-forgotten truth about herself.
What Comes Out takes our childhood fears of monsters living in our closets or under our beds and turns those fears on their head, giving us a new perspective on the things that go “bump in the night”. Although not entirely effective, the film is still quite refreshing and unique. While the budgetary limitations in the creature costume are clearly on full display, so is the impressive creativity of the creature design. While seemingly made up of common items, the shape and look of the creature is singularly distinct.
Despite one weaker performance that actually hurts the film a bit, What Comes Out is a worthwhile watch. In fact, since first agreeing to review these films, What Comes Out has been selected as a submission for the Austin Spotlight Film Festival.
Josh’s films have been submitted to even more film fests, including fests in Toronto, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and more cities. For more information on Josh and his film work, visit Somatoform Films on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SOMATOFORMFILMS. Be sure to keep a bloodshot eye open for this film maker on the rise!
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