When a flick comes across your radar titled Soccer Moms In Peril, you pretty much have to check it out. Those of us that revel in horror films, with all their B-flick and low-budget T & A idiosyncrasies, know that any film with that moniker would be, worst case, something to at least get a chuckle or two from.
I got my chuckles, all right, but from a pretty damned well-written, shot, and acted little vignette that surprised me by not being at all what I expected.
A woman awakens in a dank, dim room. She’s strapped to a chair, and shows some signs that she didn’t get there willingly; however, she has no memory of how she arrived in such a predicament. Running down her most recent memories, she’s suddenly confronted with a looming, hulking presence, all bloody apron and work gloves. Shortly after, she notices that she’s not the only prisoner here; the voice of someone she knows rings out to her, pleading…
…bet you think you’ve seen this all before, dontcha? I certainly did…but I can tell ya, I was wrong. What follows this familiar set-up is a short slice of life, where our heroine isn’t having the best of days; the action is from what amounts to a virtually static camera (there is some zooming in and out as the situation calls for it, as well as delicate panning when needed, but throughout the runtime we basically have our lead center-frame, tied to her chair) and one unbroken take. To pull this off as flawlessly as it’s done here is no small accomplishment, and I gotta give it up to the cast and crew for the skill in which they did so. Though we never see the faces of anyone other than the main character, voice acting and physical body language are skillfully delivered, conveying exactly what the script demands and forming the characters almost wholly in your mind. Tarah DeSpain, as our bound protagaonist, Jessica, delivers a great performance, showing an impressive talent using only facial expression and vocal inflection to perfectly illustrate the mindset and dispostion of her character. Between wanting to laugh and finding her backstory…er…disheartening, she’s the kind of person you probably know, but wish you didn’t. Again, no spoilers, but I have to say my feelings were right in line with the faceless baddie at the end. 🙂
The film fulfills the criteria of any good short (we see enough to form an opinion of what’s going on, but there are gaps and holes for we as the audience to fill in), and I would describe as something akin to a mash-up of Saw, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Desperate Housewives. The exchanges between our unfortunate protagonist and both her fellow (unseen, but heard) captive and the mysterious abductor are hilarious in their context, but played with a straight face without so much as a wink to the audience. I can’t go into more detail than I already have without risking spoiling the fun, but suffice to say that what ensues is a funny eight minutes of the liberal combining of the tropes of horror films and suburban melodrama; not something that sounds like it would fit together all that well, but here, it’s done with a deft hand…it works.
And that’s coming from a guy that you all know isn’t the biggest fan of horror/comedy.
All in all, it’s a very polished film, and comes across remarkably considering the basically one-shot, one-actress perspective. Any of you that are lucky enough to be at the Dances With Films Festival in L.A., keep your eyes out for the world premiere of this little flick this coming Friday night!
(That’s May the 29th, for those of you saving the date!)
I’ll give ya three cents change for a nickel.
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