This is review for the 2020 short film, Forced Entry.
This will probably be a short review. It is for a short film, after all. However, it will be a VERY short review for some of you, as some of you will undoubtedly stop reading before reaching the end of the review. I say this not because this is one of my crappier reviews (I don’t think it is), or even because Forced Entry is a crappy film (although some will surely see it as such), but because I firmly believe that the average horror fan generally has a solid understanding of which type(s) of films they enjoy and which types they don’t. Simply put, not everything is geared towards everyone. Not every viewer will enjoy every film, nor will every viewer necessarily hate those same films. As such, I think you will quickly be able to determine if this short film is one you will want to devote your time to.
Now, where were we?
Forced Entry is a 2020 short film from independent filmmaker K.M. Jamison and James Bett Jr., and is distributed by his Black Eye Entertainment production studio. Forced Entry did the film fest circuit in 2020 (or as much of a film fest circuit as COVID-restrictions allowed), screening at the Slash Night Film Fest and the Thrills, Chills,& Kills Online Film Fest, among others. The film also received award nominations at Hardcore Horror Fest and Nasty Frames Independent Film Festival.
The film tells the story of Arthur and Donovan, two psychopathic thrill-killers who drift almost randomly from slaughter to slaughter, brutally dispatching their victims. The vast majority (all but one, in fact) of these victims are younger women, most seemingly chosen at random. There is quite a bit of sexual violence associated with these murders, such as the slicing of breasts, nipple removal, and the (implied) repeated off-screen stabbing of a vagina with a hunting knife that would give Rambo an inferiority complex. Mind you, all 3 of the examples just given occur within the film’s first four minutes!! So, if you happen to be “into” that sort of thing, congrats!! You won’t have to wait long. If not, there’s a chance you’ve stopped reading by now.
It’s of considerable note that there is minimal dialog in Forced Entry, and what is present primarily consists of victims pleading for their lives while our killers derive some amusement from taunting them. When presented as such, it does present the argument that the film has little to no tangible plot or storyline, boiling down to little more than a collection of random violent imagery. However, there is some credence to be given to the idea that, maybe, this was the film’s (and filmmaker’s) intention, which makes it difficult to call the film a “failure” by any means. Let me explain…
While “random and brutal” is presumably not a strong enough foundation for a narrative-driven film, there is a valid argument to be made that the violence depicted in the film (and films of its ilk) does indeed reflect the true nature of violence in our daily lives, which in itself often tends to be random and brutal. While I could easily use examples from my own life to demonstrate this belief, one need look no further than the case(s) of Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris, the serial killer/rapist tandem dubbed “The Tool Box Killers” by the press, who kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered five young women over the span of five months in California in 1979. It is their crime spree that serves as the inspiration for this film.
Although I do not feel that any of the performers involved gave weak performances, I must admit that it was not all that easy to judge as many of the “victims” were unconscious during their assaults. That said, the ones who are “awake” do respectable jobs. However, as our killers wear ski masks for the majority of their screen time, it can be a little tough to get a read on their performances. In the actors’ defense, they aren’t really given much more to do than occasionally act menacing and pretend to stab people.
Per the film’s press release, Forced Entry was produced to serve as a “showcase” or “proof of concept” for a future full-length version. In these regards, I find myself forced to voice some concern. As mentioned, Forced Entry can easily be seen as little more than “random acts of graphic violence”. While the film may easily be effective for many viewers at its current 24-minute runtime, it’s just as easy to see how a full-length production may become tiresome or even lose its potency without the addition of more backstory or more sense of purpose.
As alluded to in the opening of this review, Forced Entry is not a film that I will be recommending to all audiences. Those that prefer their horror to brutal, extreme, and unrelenting should find enough here to quench their bloodlust. Those who are squeamish, revolt against cinematic depictions of sexual violence against women, or just want a little (or a lot) more story to their terror will undoubtedly want to sit this one out, but I presume that they made that decision long before this point in the review. That’s not to say that the film is some kill-a-second, “shock for shock value” splatterthon. It’s just not going to be one that everyone can stomach.
In closing, I do not see this as a negative review for Forced Entry, but I can understand why some would not see it as an overly “positive” review either. In retrospect, I’ve possibly set some sort of “standard” for lack of clear-cut opinion on this site when it comes to films like Forced Entry, namely because I have generally failed to review a respectable number of explicitly violent independent films (many of which are vastly more unrelenting than this film). While I don’t think that I’ve actively avoided this segment of independent filmmaking (and horror filmmaking, in general), I also do not believe that I have actively sought it out either. Sure, this website is nothing more than my opinion, and I have every right to focus on whatever I choose, but as someone who considers themselves a student of horror, I’m clearly lacking knowledge in this particular subject, and I do believe that with as frequently and as vocally as I speak on the subject of horror that it would only benefit me to do more investigation and research into the subject.
If I’m going to spend years of my life talking about horror on this website, I should probably try to cover all facets of the subject, right? If nothing else, we can thank Forced Entry for helping me realize that a little more.
Forced Entry is available to pre-order on Blu-ray at: Home · Black Eye Entertainment · Online Store Powered by Storenvy
NOTICE: Some of the scenes featured in the trailer do NOT appear in the finished short film. These may be scenes shot for the planned feature-length version of the film, but I personally can’t verify that.