REVIEW: FAMILIAR (2012)

familiarI recently had the chance to watch a short film entitled, FAMILIAR, via the wonderful world-wide web from the producer of the film, Zach Green. Zach shot me an email saying he had a film he produced that he felt was right up my alley based on the content within the website. I was skeptical at first, but watched a trailer (which looked very slick and interesting) and decided that I would take a chance and check out the finished project (which was a 24 minute short).

Director and writer, Richard Powell, creates a very well-shot, well-crafted tale of horror that revolves around a very average man who has become disillusioned with his marriage, his life, his career, and his family. Having a young daughter on her way to college, he sees his midlife age as a turning point for him to start to finally live his life and do the things he wants to do. It sort of sounds like he is having a midlife crisis, but instead of just going out to buy a ridiculously expensive car, John Dodd (Robert Nolan) has some serious life-altering news sprung on him by his wife Charlotte (Astrida Auza) when she tells him that she is pregnant. I can sympathize for John, being a male in his mid-thirties who had a stint at raising a couple of young boys from a previous marriage and having worked with special needs children ages 5 to 21 for over eight years. Kids are draining and a lot of hard work. If one is thinking about retirement and taking time for oneself and getting a little selfish in life, welcoming a new child into the world might not be too conducive for this. I found this portion of the plot extremely realistic and something that a married (or not married) couple may be going through in life.

The acting of actor Nolan, saying so much with his facial expressions, as well as the insistent voice-narration portraying Dodd’s (Nolan) conscience or bitterly, nagging conscience throughout the duration of the film was extremely amusing and well-written. I felt that the lack of dialogue and the miserable facial expressions and lack of interest in life or each other by Nolan and Auza worked out perfectly. I could almost sympathize with the misery and boredom of both characters, sadly making parts of the film a great case for not getting married and starting a family.

As our story goes on, I began to wonder where the plot would take a spin for the nasty. I was waiting for the element of horror to slowly seep into the story. After all, the trailer left one wondering just what was going to be unleashed to the viewers. What came next was not a total surprise but a much welcomed one. As Dodd learns of the news of his wife’s pregnancy, he begins to listen to the shouting and ordering that his ever-growing, nasty, little voice in his head; the voice that takes a turn for the sinister.

The film plays on the viewer’s psyche in a very intelligent manner, as well pleasing the gorehounds of the horror genre towards the end of the film. Without ruining or spoiling any surprises, things spiral out of control for Dodd, his family, and reality all at once.

The special effects in the film were incredibly executed by The Butcher Shop, the talents of Ryan Louagie, Carlos Henriques and Steven Dawley. The film production company, Fatal Pictures (headed by director/producer Richard Powell and producer Zach Green) is also responsible for WORM and CONSUMPTION (their first project). Not only were the special effects done well, but the editing and cinematography were top-notch. The whole production created an all-around solid horror short.

Of course, my next question is, when will Fatal Pictures takes their talents one step further and venture into the feature-length film arena and see how their talents fare with a longer feature. I think they have what it takes and can really create something special and original. With so many big-budget films being made that are either sequels, remakes, re-imaginings of previous works or ideas, it really is refreshing to watch a well-made film whose story, acting, and special effects added to the enjoyment of the film and not the downfall of it.

I highly recommend keeping an eye on Fatal Pictures and any projects that their name is attached to and look forward to any and all future projects from them. If readers are interested to hear more about the film from the director and producer, tune in to SHU-IZMZ RADIO this Sunday, March 18th, at 12PM/CST for an interview as I talk to both about the short horror film at http://www.coreofdestructionradio.com.

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