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AX (2014): Short Film Review…Questions Of The Mind

Directed by Michael Coulombe-making his debut at such activities with this film, Ax is, essentially, about questions of the mind.  If you folks have been paying attention to other reviews I have written for this lovely site, you know that sort of approach always sits well with me.  What I liked the most about it – and yeah, I did like it – was the prose-style narration that felt like a reading of Poe or Lovecraft.  It seems like that is rather uncommon in film these days.  To be fair, I haven’t watched much modern horror, so it’s possible I have missed out on some things.

Ax- 2014

The story takes us into the woods with a troubled fellow (Todd James Jackson) sitting on his porch, wielding an ax.  They are both with splatters of blood and his mind begins wondering about the conditions of his reality – or the reality of all of us, if you choose to take it that way.  As the voice in his head takes us for a ride, we also get to tour the forest with him and eventually other voices start in the background, which added to the eerie mood.  A couple of times I wasn’t sure which voice I was hearing, as it was twisted around enough with the volume for my ears to question what was happening and I thought that was an interesting trick!  I also dug the fact that in the age of Horror films that are saturated in extreme gore, ruthlessly loud screams and more elaborate choices of weapons, Coulombe chose to go to the absolute opposite side of the spectrum and brought it back to the primitive.  The use of an ax – as opposed to machine guns, chainsaws or an arsenal of surgical tools – comes across much more brutal.  Even with the absence of any on-screen violence, the viewer should feel the terror that is taking place.  This was classic Horror, in every sense of the description.
As a fan of cinematography, there were a few shots here that I really enjoyed, as well.  Specifically, there are three that stuck in my mind.  The shot of our hero at the beginning, sitting on his porch with his ax; the 3-D styled shot of the ax stuck in a log that was resting amongst a pile of freshly chopped wood; and his standing at the end of a hallway, holding his weapon of choice, just before the deed.  Alfred Hitchcock once said that bad films were pictures of people talking and good films were pictures of people thinking and this is precisely what you get with this film, a person thinking.
Would I recommend this film to other fans of Horror?  Absolutely!  Do I think the majority of today’s Horror fan would get into an eight minute film that shows no actual violence?  Not a chance.  As for me, I’ll always enjoy the subtle visual poetry that made the genre so amazing in the first place, over gratuitous gore porn.  This is a fine piece of work and my respect goes out to Michael Coulombe for creating something so cool for his first film!



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Nathan Surface

Nathan Surface is an experimental musician, artist and writer. In 2006 he started Sephirotic Publishing and is the creator of Erotic Dismemberment Art-zine, Corrosive Altars Metal-zine and 24 Frames Cine-zine. He lives with his wife, two cats and thousands of books, films and albums.