I almost always have to give it up to the indie horror filmmaker — those guys and gals get in there and get it done — sure, they might only have a couple of grand (and often, a lot less) to work with, but they pool their resources, find like-minded people that can provide assistance, and let that passion for the craft push them through. Of course, this doesn’t always mean that they’re gonna come up with a Halloween or a Night of the Living Dead — the reality is, many indie no-budgeters, by their very nature, end up ignored because of the unfortunately necessary lack production value, poorly written or executed scripts, subpar acting or FX, or lack of distribution.
Of course, this isn’t to say that every cheapie independent horror flick is a hidden gem — sadly, a lot of turds get turned outta that particular machine — but I’m not talking about the hacks that throw some boobs and blood (fake blood, of course…and often fake boobs as well) at the camera and call it a movie. I’m talking about people that have a love of the genre, a genuine idea, and try their best to realize their vision using what resources, however small, fate has given them. I’m often chagrined at the good ideas and/or skills and talent that get overlooked because of the package they’re wrapped in — but at the same time understand the tendency because of the loads of crap that we wade through.
The Fear Revival, from Marc Jeffrey Schetter, is a film that plays out like one that had a lot of passion and thought behind it, but is hampered by it’s budget and exposure.
Two couples are taking a break from the rat race at a cabin deep in the woods. The quiet solitude of nature seems to be just the thing they’re needing, until one of the young ladies becomes inexplicably and violently ill. The other couple decides to head to a nearby ranger tower to get assistance, while the sick girl’s boyfriend stays behind to care for her whilst awaiting help. On their way to find the ranger tower, however, the one couple is beset with car trouble…and something much worse. The girl finds herself alone and trapped by strangers, and by the next evening, she will find herself wrapped up in a sinister, devilish plot here deep in the forest…and nothing is what it seems.
OK, so the “cabin-in-the-woods” motif is arguably a pretty tired and overused plot, but as plots go, ya gotta admit it’s a vein that’s still got a few nuggets in it. Still, Schetter obviously is paying some homage to what has gone before — not only with the basic idea, but with several elements that are scattered throughout the tale. I thought his nostalgic camera work fit the time period and vibe of the film well, and overall his narrative flows pretty smoothly. On the down side, the acting is about what you’d expect from a micro-budgeter — it’s not all terrible, but by and large it’s a little on the wooden side. FX are minimal, but the flashes you get are pretty well-conceived for what I’m sure was done as cheaply as possible.
Now, here’s the deal: you can look at The Fear Revival and see what, objectively, is your run of the mill, ’80s-homage slasher flick — and you’d be correct. There’s nothing here that’s going to reinvent the wheel or charge your imagination beyond what you’ve seen before. If I were going to rate it solely on those merits, I’d say the flick is at best a 5 outta 10. But…from the perspective of someone that watches a lot of indie horror, I have to give Schetter credit on several points: 1) Although it certainly borrows from the nostalgia of past films, his script mixes elements in a way that’s pretty original — it’s his story, not just a rehash. 2) His camera work shows talent, with dynamic shots and movements that raise this short above a lot of the dredge we see. And 3) He avoids all the standard tropes and tricks of flashing nudity or cheap bloodbaths, focusing instead on generating suspense and dread.
It’s not a great film, Fellow Fans — I won’t perjure myself there — but it is a calling card showing what Mr. Schetter is capable of as a filmmaker. He made this short with three grand and some friends — give this guy fifty…twenty…hell, ten grand, and let’s see what he can do.
My two cents.