Sometimes I’ve imagined what it would be like if anthology shows like Night Gallery, Are You Afraid Of The Dark?, or Darkroom were still around — you guys remember, right? Each week would be a different, half-hour horror show that usually had a nice mix of suspense, as much gore as you could get on TV back then, and a touch of black humor here and there. I gotta say, growing up back then, those weekly horror series were a treat.
Along comes writer/producer/director Michael Ballif, and his new YouTube series The Witching Season. What it consists of is a series of horror shorts, presented one episode (or ‘webisode’, if I’m gonna be accused of being old) at a time, each featuring a different horror tale set during the Halloween season. So far they’re up to three — the longest only being about seventeen and a half minutes long — so I sat down to take in what’s come from their troubled psyches so far.
From the opening introduction, I was taken back to my youth; a collage of fall/Halloween imagery that brings to mind such ’80s classics as Halloween and Children of the Corn fills the screen, beautifully shot and seamlessly edited, with a bass synth soundtrack by Slasher Dave that immediately made me think of the old Tales From The Darkside theme, along with the minimalist sound of Carpenter.
I’m only gonna talk about the first episode just briefly — the fun of these you need to check out for yourselves — but the initial story is called Killer On The Loose, this particular tale written and directed by series creator Ballif.
We begin with a dark, fall evening; from the decor on the homes we see in the darkness, it must either be on or near All Hallow’s Eve. From out of the woods, a young woman hurries from the darkness, frantic fear contorting her features — she bears all the marks of being pursued. Taking refuge in the shadowy but festively decorated house, we see that indeed, someone appears to be after her. Trying to be silent, she’s further terrified when the dark-clad, hockey-mask wearing man enters the home. Making her way upstairs, noises that she’s created in her panic draw the masked intruder close behind…and the blood is soon to flow.
Sound familiar? You bet. Is it what you’re thinking? Nope.
That’s all I’m going to say about the film’s plot — some things, you just gotta find out for yourself. However, I do want to mention the quality of work that I observed; from the well-done intro that I mentioned to the closing credits, I have to say I was impressed. The scene set-ups are very professional, and the lighting was very astute; I never “lost” any of the action or nuance of the actors, despite all the shadowy settings. Add thoughtful set direction, and clever choices of shooting angles, and you have a very tidy looking production. The performances, despite virtually no dialogue, were convincing without falling victim to overworking the roles or lack of emotion; Hailey Nebeker, in the lead role, very aptly shows abject fear, but with an underlying determination that highlights an unshakable will to survive the night. The effects, though minimal, were nicely done (even in close-up), and although you may wince at the mask of the stalker (I did), you’ll find that there is a method lurking in it’s use.
So there you have it; I’ve already subscribed to the YouTube channel, and I’m looking forward to what Ballif and crew have coming next. They’ve been gracious enough to allow us to share Killer On The Loose with you right here — so what are you waiting for?
JUST CLICK HERE
Latest posts by Andrew Thompson (see all)
- IN MEMORIAM — GEORGE ROMERO 1940 – 2017 - July 17, 2017
- Anticipated PITCHFORK Hits DVD / Blu-ray This Month - May 3, 2017
- Filmmakers Unleash Terrifying OWLMAN On Unsuspecting Urban Explorers - May 2, 2017